TRPR Consultation Published

Posted 28th March 2022 by Dave Cross
The post-implementation review of tobacco legislation covering The Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016 (TRPR) was presented to Parliament on Friday 25 March, by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care “by Command of Her Majesty”. Vapers hoping for a quick win due to Brexit are going to be disappointed as there is no recommendation to relax nicotine limits, or increase bottle and tank sizes.

The consultation received 5,254 responses from a range of different stakeholders, identifying themselves as individuals, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), businesses, public sector bodies, and others.

Broken down, the submissions were received from:

  • 5110 Individuals – 97.3% of respondents
  • 32 NGOs – 0.6% of respondents
  • 58 businesses – 1.1% of respondents
  • 24 public sector bodies – 0.5% of respondents
  • 30 other – 0.6% of respondents

The authors of the review document say: “Common themes from those who felt the regulations were too severe were that both tank and refill bottle sizes should be bigger, and some suggested the allowed nicotine strength of e-cigarettes should be increased.

“Amongst respondents that felt they should be more severe it was suggested that the packaging encourages (young) people to use e-cigarettes, and that allowed nicotine strength should be decreased.

On helping smokers switch to e-cigarettes, many responses suggested that tank size, refill bottle sizes, and nicotine strength should be increased.

Dispergo

Related to restrictions on advertising, it was suggested that to help smokers switch, the restrictions on advertising should be relaxed to increase the awareness of the positive health benefits of switching. However, in regard to young people, many felt that the restrictions on e-cigarette advertising were working to discourage them from using e-cigarettes.”

The document also details how the introduction of vape legislation effected businesses. It found:

  • The introduction of vape legislation did not impact sales volumes negatively
  • Introducing warnings on packaging meant old stock had to be disposed of at cost, resulting in losses for vendors
  • Shops where vape products sell well thought smokers switching to vaping was positive because they earned more profit per item: “There’s a lot more mark-up on them, so we can make more on that. So, if the likes of our cigarette smokers move across to e-cigarettes, then it’s a win-win for us.”
  • Places where vapes do not sell well feel that consumers would rather go to specialist stops for their ecig kit
  • Businesses feel customers can get around e-cigarette regulations easily. This included purchasing online, or making their own e-liquids: “You can still buy the big tanks online, you can still buy the great big bottles of oil online, you know?”

Consultation summary of views about vaping

The document states: “Some stakeholders raised concerns that the nicotine strength limits were not high enough to help some smokers switch permanently to just e-cigarettes and help the government achieve its Smokefree 2030 ambition. In addition, many from industry, other organisations and vapers felt the tank size limits, and bottle sizes should be increased as they were inconvenient.

“In terms of the TRPR requirements for e-cigarette warning messages, a study suggested that they may deter smokers from switching to e-cigarettes.

Innokin

“At the same time, some stakeholders thought the non-nicotine vaping industry should be regulated in the same way as e-cigarettes. This would improve standards and consumer safety, and ensure regulation was coherent. Some responses also said the regulations did not go far enough on e-cigarettes in terms of restricting the packaging and descriptor names to protect youth from using these products.”

Consultation conclusions for vaping

Responses to the consultation varied, with respondents suggesting amendments to e-cigarette packaging to promote them to be less harmful than smoking, increase bottle sizes of nicotine liquid, tank size increases and nicotine strength. With others wanting a strengthened TRPR to have for example more powers over packaging designs and colours to deter youth use.

“If the regulations were relaxed, there would be an expected decrease in the health benefits seen from the TRPR.

“The regulations, although seen as strong given the low youth use of smoking and e-cigarette use, still has areas to strengthen not covered under these regulations to help the 7 million UK smokers quit and deter future generations from entering smoking.”

Recommendations for changing the legislation on vaping products

Overall, it is DHSC's position that the evidence presented above provides a strong argument for the retention of the regulations. There are some areas of tobacco and nicotine products that the regulations did not cover, with some suggesting they should do, for example, including non-nicotine vapes and nicotine pouches under the TRPR regulatory framework.

Freemax

“In addition, some argue that TRPR should be strengthened further to include additional measures which restrict tobacco use and prevent youth and non-smokers from using e-cigarettes. This needs to be carefully balanced in supporting efforts to enable adult smokers to switch to e-cigarettes as a less harmful alternative.

“Despite these suggested amendments, they do not provide evidence of significant issues with the regulations and removing them would likely result in all the health benefits being lost. The Government will consider the suggestions for changes to the regulations, and a range of other regulatory reforms, to help support its Smokefree 2030 ambition.”

So, despite the clear benefits of relaxing the cap on nicotine strength, 2ml tanks, and 10ml bottles, the Department of Health and Social Care is still not recommending the Government changes them. Time will tell if common sense will prevail.

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 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, motorbikes, and dog walker
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