Totally Wicked at the Courts of Justice of the European Union

Posted 1st October 2015 by Dave Cross
At no point has any vaper seen Article 20 of the Tobacco Products Directive as anything other than a terrible piece of legislation. Ill-considered, based on fear not facts, it threatens to greatly impact on the way we vape in 2016. Today, at 14:30 CET, Totally Wicked (TW) will have their legal case against it heard at the European Courts of Justice (CJEU).

Clive Bates commented on Article 20, at the handover of the TW petition on Tuesday: “It’s a terrible piece of legislation, the kind of thing you could say about it is it’s a dog’s breakfast, it’s a dog’s dinner it’s a dog eating through the night.”

TW’s press release states: “Totally Wicked will today formally challenge in the European Courts of Justice the EU Tobacco Product Directive (TPD), which it believes breaks EU law and places the e-cigarette industry at an unfair advantage.”

“Totally Wicked’s challenge is based on its view that Article 20 of the TPD represents a disproportionate impediment to the free movement of goods and the free provision of services, places electronic cigarettes at an unjustified competitive disadvantage to tobacco products, fails to comply with the general EU principle of equality, and breaches the fundamental rights of electronic cigarette manufacturers.”

“The TPD is due to come into force in May 2016. Totally Wicked’s Managing Director Fraser Cropper said, ‘It is crucial 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’.”

“Many within the Industry and increasingly many outside of it believe that if the e-cigarette industry is left to develop with proportionate consumer regulations, e-cigarettes have the potential to render tobacco obsolete and could prevent millions of smoking related diseases.”

It is not all positive news, the Guardian report that Hazel Cheeseman, representing ASH UK, commented: “Good regulation is important to drive up standards. Elsewhere in the world countries are opting to ban e-cigarettes. In Europe we will have a balanced model of regulation that will keep safe and effective products on the market. There is also much scope for improvement. We know that two out of three smokers who try e-cigarettes do not continue vaping. Balanced regulation can drive innovation and improve the market as a whole.”

TW released a breakdown of the process here. Today is the “oral stage” of the process. Lawyers from both sides can put their case to the judges and Advocate General, who can question them.” The five judges will listen to a 20-minute presentation from Totally Wicked’s Barrister, explaining the case against Article 20. Then the EU institutions and 2 member states (who are arguing against TW) will have 15 minutes each to present their cases.

As much as we’d like to report the verdict today, the result will not be announced until early in 2016. For the time being vapers are going to have to wait an see while juice makers have no clear understanding of how to prepare themselves for the future.

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