“Many in the Westminster bubble have lost touch with the feelings of smokers including those using e-cigarettes to quit,” said the 100K Campaign. “Somehow the Conservatives won a majority in the election. Somehow Jeremy Corbyn became Leader of the Opposition. So what makes you think 2.6 million vapers can’t change the TPD? In 2010 and 2013 vapers had already united to stop UK and European regulators from shutting down vaping.”
Two point eight million vapers may not have made their referendum decision based solely on the TPD, but it certainly became a factor. They had seen the corrupt way it was enacted and it coloured a lot of the debate at the time.
Clive Bates was one of the few involved in vaping cautioning against a Leave vote. He said at the time: “Does leaving the EU help? No. I think UK leaving the EU will not fix this problem at all. If there is a Brexit, UK is likely to have to comply with this directive anyway.”
But this is now history. The TPD has been implemented and David Davis is leading leave negotiations. What lies ahead for our vape businesses?
UK Vaping Industry Association’s Christian Mulcahy believes the TPD prevents some smokers from switching, and that those obstacles might be removed post-Brexit. “The world is very much looking to the UK in terms of creating sensible and proportionate regulation around these products,” he said. “There are arbitrary decisions, which have been imposed by the European directive. An example is nicotine strength - we have a restriction where the maximum nicotine strength is 20mg/ml.”
While he has a point about current smokers maybe needing higher strength juices, it’s his comments regarding packaging that will have many vapers nodding in agreement: “From a packaging point of view it doesn't make sense to have all these bottles being produced. A 30, 40 or 60ml bottle would be more convenient for vapers, more convenient for the environment and cheaper to produce.”
Hopes that Mulcahy and vapers may have for the future might need to be reigned in a bit if other actors in our play have anything to do with the outcome. ASH’s Deborah Arnott for one doesn't think the TPD has been a problem: “The TPD has not been disastrous, and though there are potentially opportunities, it is not going to be one of the main priorities of Brexit. The use of e-cigarettes in the UK has not grown significantly since the TPD came into effect. Our view is that the regulations as they work at the moment are fine. If it isn’t broke, then why fix it?”