How the TPD may have saved vaping in Europe

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When the TPD2 was announced back in 2016, vapers pooped themselves. The European Union were coming to take our vapes. Quick storm the houses of parliament… It’s too much effort to go to Belgium (or Germany, it seems like it would be Germany?). 

For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, allow me to explain exactly what it is and how it’s potentially saved vaping as we know it. 

The Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) is a directive of the European Union which places limits on the sale and merchandising of tobacco and tobacco related products in the EU. The Directive entered into force on 19 May 2014 and became applicable in the EU Member States on 20 May 2016. Vapers were then given 12 months to get their stuff together and comply with the new standards. 

Source

The main parts of the directive related to e-cigarettes were as follows:

  1. Nicotine containing e-liquid could not be sold in bottles larger than 10ml.
  2. Had to be tested and registered with the MHRA.
  3. Could not be sold to consumers with strengths higher than 20mg of nicotine. 
  4. Could not contain any carcinogens or anything known to be dangerous to your health, caffeine, taurine or colourings. 
  5. Had to have strict labelling regulations and child proof caps. 

Now when I read that back it doesn’t seem so bad, however there are a couple of crucial points many of us disagree with:

  • Nicotine containing e-liquid could not be sold in bottles larger than 10ml.

This is crazy talk. I vape 30ml a day. Think of all that plastic waste. The extra money and energy involved in the manufacturing, which then gets passed to the consumer. Now magnify that by the 10 million plus vapers across Europe. 

Of course, some bright spark came up with a loophole. Short fills. Short fills don’t contain any nicotine so are outside of the scope of the TPD. They leave enough space in the bottle for you to add your nicotine at a later date. 

  • Could not contain any carcinogens or anything known to be dangerous to your health, caffeine, taurine or colourings. 

In principal this is a good idea. Unfortunately, what is deemed dangerous to your health is up for debate. Diacetyl is a perfect example. Banned under the TPD. Does it really pose a risk? Nah, not really. You’re talking about trace amounts in e-liquid. Far less in fact, than what is in traditional tobacco and yet nobody ever contracted the fabled popcorn lung from smoking cigarettes. A simple warning on the label as opposed to an outright ban of ingredients would have sufficed. 

Again, short fills negate this problem as they don’t require testing or registering. Which in turn creates another issue. People can stick whatever they want in a short fill without having to abide by any of the restrictions imposed by the TPD. I can’t help but think that if the EU had done a bit more research about the actual dangers of ingredients and lifted the maximum sized container to 30-60ml, the industry would be in a better place right now. People wouldn’t be looking for loopholes to circumnavigate the new regulations. 

However, one thing they did right was this:

  • Could not be sold to consumers with strengths higher than 20mg of nicotine. 

Supposedly America have a teen vaping epidemic and the UK doesn’t. Why is this? One of the main reasons is that in America you can buy any level of nicotine you want. 

Kids are getting buzzed off their nips with 50mg Juul pods which cannot legally be sold in the EU. This very rule has saved vaping in the UK from going in the same direction as it is in the USA. Flavour bans, state vaping bans… Crazy talk. Just limit the nicotine content. It’s not rocket science.