The European Commission brought forward proposals to amend the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) in December 2012. The proposals look to bring vaping products within the scope of the Directive for the first time. Final agreement on the amended TPD was reached between the European Commission, Parliament and Council in March 2014 and Member States have been given until May 2016 to implement the directive. Article 20 of the TPD deals specifically with the regulation of electronic cigarettes.
Article 20 is said to address concerns about e-cigarettes that have no solid scientific basis. Much of the current scientific evidence suggests that e-cigarettes are beneficial. Nicotine can be delivered in a much "cleaner" form, without the tar, carbon monoxide, and volatile hot gases of tobacco cigarettes. This "clean" nicotine contains only a fraction of the 7,000 chemicals contained in ordinary tobacco cigarettes. Delivery is through the act of vaping rather than through the combustion of tobacco and inhalation of smoke, as with conventional tobacco products. Accordingly e-cigarettes greatly reduce the risk of adverse health effects and death associated with smoking conventional tobacco. This risk reduction produces an obvious benefit to public health, whilst also satisfying a user’s strong desire for nicotine and the "behavioural" aspects of smoking.
Fraser Cropper, the Managing Director of TW stated: “The guiding principle of our business is to put our customers’ and the wider vaping communities’ needs first. For the sake of e-cigarette users and potential users, it is vital that our industry is allowed to mature within a proportionate regulatory framework, which supports appropriate controls and safety requirements, and necessary social responsibility and continues to provide consumer choice to maximise the enormous potential of these products. Article 20 of this Directive patently will not deliver this environment.
We may have launched this challenge, but it is a challenge we hope all vapers and all of industry can support. We want it to be our challenge – vapers and the electronic cigarette and e-liquid industry, for if the TPD is implemented in its current form we will all lose out.
This website provides an opportunity for anyone interested in the legal challenge to keep up to date with the latest developments. It also provides an opportunity for vapers and the wider industry to sign up in support. In doing so, they will be playing their part in demonstrating to the Court of Justice of the European Union that vapers and industry from across the EU are united in their opposition to Article 20 of this directive.”
Totally Wicked believes that the Article 20 restrictions will result in:
- less innovation in a demanding consumer market;
- fewer suppliers in the marketplace, as the remaining larger players will be tobacco or pharmaceutical companies, or be backed by them;
- a reduced product range for consumers, which will mean current tobacco and electronic vaporiser users may not find suitable strength products on general sale in the marketplace;
- regulatory burdens will increase product costs; and
- as a result, electronic cigarettes will become less available than, and less attractive than, conventional tobacco cigarettes and other tobacco products; this restriction on the availability to consumers of a healthier, alternative product to conventional tobacco will mean:
- a significant number of existing electronic cigarette users return to smoking conventional tobacco products;
- a number of future and existing tobacco cigarette smokers will not have a readily available, attractive e-cigarette alternative that are able to deliver the user satisfaction that current products have been so successful in offering.
In addition, legitimate e-cigarette manufacturers and retailers in the EU will not only have to comply with the burdens imposed by TPD, but will have to compete with e-cigarettes continuing to be produced outside the EU, unburdened by the new regulatory regime, and also with "black market" e-cigarettes produced illegitimately within the EU.
The new website has been launched today http://article20legalchallenge.com/, please do check it out now and bookmark it for the future. We will cover this case as the year progresses and keep you up to date with any developments.