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The Tobacco Products Directive – What Has Changed?

As a vaper, I have become accustomed to changes. Most of us just sit back and enjoy our juices and our cloud, and we look forward to the latest tanks and flavours.

Some of us, however, look at the future more intensely and, sometimes, the future has looming problems.

The European Union drafted a piece of legislation called the Tobacco Products Directive, that would take affect in EU bound countries from as early as May 2016. Hardened vapers had heard of the TPD, but knew little about how exactly it would affect their vaping experiences. Rules and rumours were awash in every vape shop, in every town across the country. Anxieties were escalated, in thinking that shops would be shut down and e-juice would only be available on prescription.

The reality is not so hardcore, but somewhat daunting, all the same.

The European Union has attempted to make life difficult for both vapers and established sellers but the rules are – somewhat – flexible. Article 20 of the TPD lists the demands of the EU as regards to vaping, but Britain has chosen to accept the minimal amount of legislation. In theory, Article 20 is a good thing, promoting safety and standards as regards juices and devices. However, just like anything political, one can only wonder who is profiting from the changes.

So, what does it all mean?

With the amount of legislation we have chosen to accept, there isn’t a great degree of change. A number of niggling things persist, but, generally, the changes won’t affect the majority of vapers in a big way. As with everything legal, though, some changes can be annoying and take a little time getting used to.

man vaping

Perhaps the most significant change is the size of e-cigarette liquid bottles. The capacity is now limited to just 10ml bottles. Larger sized bottles will be completely outlawed. While we should try and resist financial conspiracy theories, it’s difficult to not point fingers with this particular draft of legislation. The whole idea of buying larger bottles was to save us a few pennies – like a bulk buy. Now that’s out the window, people have to stock up on the 10ml bottles at regular prices, meaning more tax goes to the government. In time, we’ll surely get used to the idea, but it’s an annoying concept that will have infuriated a large portion of vapers and the vaping community.

The other major part of Article 20 is the limit in nicotine strengths. The maximum dosage is now 20mg (or 2%). This won’t affect the majority of vapers, as the general high nicotine levels are considered to be around 18mg, and the most popular ones being between 6mg and 12mg. But, it may still have further reaching problems. Some of the heaviest smokers may find that 20mg is just not an adequate amount of nicotine to make the change away from analogues and onto e-cigs. Most will, but some will struggle. For now, we’ll just have to wait and see how this rule pans out.

The third big change is the limit on tank sizes. Article 20 explicitly states that the maximum tank capacity must be 2ml. As it stands, and as far as most vapers are concerned, 2ml is a reasonably large tank – a lot of tanks and pen style e cigarette units hold considerably less. But, as is always the case, it will still have an effect on vapers who like to carry much larger concentrations of juice. For now, if you have a 3ml tank or larger, that’s fine – just don’t break it! All in all, though, we don’t see this rule being too problematic, in the long run.

The other parts of legislation are rather trivial and won’t have a massive effect on any current vaper.

Article 20 states that all devices must deliver a consistent nicotine level – this is the most trivial part of the rule, as it is nearly impossible to have a device that can achieve such a task. With medicine, fine, but to do so with e-liquid is not as straightforward, Still, it’s in the rules we accepted, so we’ll just have to keep an eye on how that unfolds.

Bottles must have a leak-proof design and satisfy a set code in terms of how many drops they can achieve, per minute. Rather pointless, but it’s there.


Finally, Article 20 states that all products must satisfy a product testing procedure by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). All in all, this isn’t a bad thing. It may have some significant cost involved for juice manufacturers, however – which may up the prices of certain ranges of e-liquid. Time will tell.

So, all said and done, the TPD isn’t going to hurt British vaping as much as some first feared. It will, of course, be punishing for the more hardened vaper who likes his or her 3ml tanks, and for nearly every vaper who likes to stock up on larger bottles of their favourite juice. But, all in all, the changes won’t make too much of a difference.

If, as some thought was the intention, the EU and its TPD rules were designed to damage the vaping community, they will be proven very wrong. Vaping may be young, but it’s growing at a rapid rate, and a few silly words on Article 20 will do nothing to stop the vaping expansion.

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