So what is it?As the vapouriser industry spreads wider and continues to bloom further legislation and research has followed. Often a bi-product of what is known within marketing as disruptive innovation (characterised by a hugely successful new technology and a sudden boom in sales), these laws and findings can have profound effects on a product and market – particularly one still in its relative infancy.
One such case of this is the Tobacco Products Directive. The result of significant study and debate within the European Union, this extensive document includes many regulations on the vapouriser and e-cigarette trade as well as personal usage.
Coming into effect in May of 2016 under a new revision, this has unsurprisingly been of some considerable concern for traders. As of 20 May 2016, the sale of e-cigarettes must comply with the TPD, although some arrangements have been allowed for in regards to the prior or overlapping sale of containers or refills that do not comply with the new ruling.
A particular focus of the TPD is the tightening of devices and containers in regards to personal safety. This includes vetting and confirmation of products complying to standards of proof against tampering and child adequate child resistant features. While this is without question an appropriate course of action it may have distinct effects on the product market and margins that traders and producers of these products currently enjoy.
Of further note is the regulation of the size and strength of nicotine cartridges. The TPD now enforces the limit of containers being no more than 2 millilitres in volume. Nicotine strength has also been capped and must be of no more potency than 20mg per millilitre. While a reasonable limit in terms of strength such restrictions can affect product ranges and particularly the branding of certain items which may be tailored in such a way to emphasise potency or power of the product.
What does this mean to me?There are a general range of common questions that we can confirm answers for by taking a deeper look at the revised TPD document.
Flavour is an obvious attraction for vapers and e-cigarette users. Users enjoy a mind-boggling array of different flavours ranging from the traditional to the bizarre and would not want to lose this freedom to enjoy their product as they wish. The good news is that this will not be restricted as the TPD does not prohibit the sale of any specific types of flavour.
The removal of certain products is the next common point of concern. The positive news in this case is that the manufacturers within the e-cigarette and vape market on the whole have been supportive of the TPD and many have kept a step ahead of the game. Vaporisers and e-cigarettes have already moved towards having the required restrictions in tank size as well as further improvements such as more reliable leak-proof refilling mechanisms.
Relevant to both seller and the enthusiast is the worry that the TPD will drive out small businesses. This is a tough subject to clearly answer as it involves a lot of factors. Additional fees incurred by the TPD such as annual and product modification fees might affect this, however the main driving goal of the ruling is to increase standards across the entire market – if entrepreneurial companies meet this challenge they should have no problems staying relevant even if on a smaller scale.
Products and MedicinesThis is a reasonably significant change for both manufacturers and established importers. Under the changes introduced by the TPD an op-in service is allowed in order to license an item as a medicine. Medicines are controlled within the UK by the National Measurement and Regulation Office Enforcement Services and behave quite differently in some senses.
The difference here covers some key areas that would have a huge influence on how a trader can market their product. Medicines, for instance, are allowed to make health claims in regards to the product. You can imagine how critical this would be for an e-cigarette – the ability to claim directly that it can help quit smoking or to make comparisons against other e-cigarette brands or vaporisers is of massive importance in branding a product and spreading its sale further and wider.
Medicines can also be more flexible and tailored towards the product. As we discussed previously a TPD regulated e-cigarette must not be stronger than 20mg/ml. This restriction does not apply to MHRA regulated medicinal products which may exceed this as long as it is relevant to the item in question and its medicinal purpose.
Branding for TPD products would take a further hit with the requirement of 30% packaging being dedicated to health warnings such as those relating to nicotine being an addictive substance. Placed on both the front and back of all compliant packages it is easy to see what an effect this can have on sales for casual and enthusiast users alike.
In conclusionIt’s hard to know exactly how much impact any new legislation or change to such a strong market will have in the short term. Only coming into effect since 20 May 2016, it may take some time before the deeper changes to the scene and market are confirmed. We can look to the details as above and draw calculated guesses, however.
Ultimately, while we can discuss the implications to the market and the affect on businesses the TPD has two main goals in mind: two improve safety and quality. The restrictions on nicotine strength, the refill tank size limitations and the mandatory improvements the seals on devices are all intended to give vapers and e-cigarette users a more consistent and measured experience.
It is a certainty that some companies and traders both large and small will be affected. That said, these are likely to be those that were not already meeting or exceeding these standards in the first place. As such, without major concern over unfair or extreme limitations identified within the TPD it is fair to say these changes will be, on the whole, for the best.
I would love to hear your views about it and it’s impact on the vaping world…