Frasier Cropper, managing Director of Totally Wicked, passed comment on the sad affair: “This is a bitterly disappointing end to a battle that has lasted more than two years. At its heart, was a fundamental dispute between those who recognise the public health potential vaping offers and therefore wish to see these products and their use flourish under a robust consumer regulatory regime, and those who either do not understand vaping or see it as a threat to established interests and therefore wish to see e-cigarettes subjected to disproportionate and inappropriate regulation.”
“I am therefore disappointed, yet unsurprised,” he continued, “given the level of misinformation and vested interest at the heart of this Directive’s drafting, that the EU Court of Justice has ruled against our legal challenge. They have chosen to ignore a welter of evidence. In time I firmly believe that the European Commission and others who support the TPD will come to realise the terrible mistake they have made.”
Paul Nuttall of UKIP added: “This ridiculous judgement may well mean some vapers will go back to tobacco, which is plainly not to be encouraged.” Vapers may wonder why, if UKIP was so opposed to the TPD, his MEPs did not bother to vote against it? What is certain is that the potential for further legal action has been all but extinguished by the ruling.
The European Court judges ruled against Totally Wicked on every part of their case. The Blackburn company is not able to appeal the decision and a new, and expensive, case can only be brought if a new evidence is submitted or a new argument is levied.
According to Ecigintelligence: “The court ... held that regulatory restrictions on e-cigarettes were not disproportionate and were justified because authorities could not be sure that e-cigarettes were safe or even 95% safer than conventional cigarettes.” This ruling comes despite the recent Royal College of Physicians report and the previous one by Public Health England.
The impact of Article 20 coming into force in two weeks can already be felt in the vaping community as vendors push out their very last discount codes. Some, like Manabush, are making a political statement (with 25% off being given if you type “vote-leave” into the appropriate box). Other codes being offered up carry a forthright sentiment about the TPD by using 4 letter profanities.
Campaign, the magazine for the marketing community, believes the restrictions on advertising will place a premium on point-of-sale design. “In-store communication will take on significant importance in driving ... growth,” Grey Shopper agency’s Sarah Green is reported as saying. “Brands will want to consider the channel, the shopper and the shopper mission, then ensure strength in the communication: does it grab my attention? Is it clear why this brand is better than another?”
Things like 120ml bottles of juice will still be able to be manufactured up to the 20th November deadline. Vendors may stockpile them, and things like large volume tanks, but will be banned from selling them after 20th May 2017.
The future is exceptionally bleak for the bulk of small to medium independent vape companies and the message they are sending out is clear – the only way to combat the TPD is to come out of Europe and urge the government to implement a new, measured approach to harm reduction legislation. Is this a pipe dream? The debate in the House of Lords (covered in another article this week) would indicate there is a will to listen to the arguments and evidence that doesn’t exist in the corridors of European politics.