British vapers have two weeks to submit comments that could help change U.K. policies on vaping products. The government is reviewing the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations (TRPR), which will no longer have to follow the European Union’s Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) requirements.
The government must complete a review of the legislation within five years of the 2016 TRPR’s implementation. The public consultation site has links to the existing regulations. The deadline for submitting comments is March 19.
Vapers around the world tend to think of the U.K. as a vaping wonderland, with an e-cig-friendly government, and even anti-smoking organizations that encourage switching to e-cigarettes. However, as a member of the EU, the British government was required to adopt many of the same vaping and nicotine product restrictions as other EU members. That recently changed when the U.K. left the EU after 47 years.
The New Nicotine Alliance (NNA)—a grassroots nicotine consumer rights group—has broken down the public consultation document to highlight the questions related to vaping. The NNA also links their previous letter to the government outlining 10 proposals for post-Brexit reform of nicotine and tobacco policy. That letter offers valuable information for commenters.
Among other TPD-mandated vaping product rules, the 2016 version of the TRPR imposes these restrictions:
- Nicotine in e-liquid cannot exceed 20 mg/mL nicotine strength
- E-liquid bottles cannot have a capacity larger than 10 mL
- Vape tanks cannot hold more than 2 mL of liquid
- Advertising of vaping products is heavily restricted
- Manufacturers and importers must notify the government six months before selling a new product
Those rules do nothing to protect consumers, but rather limit innovation, deprive smokers of effective vaping devices, and increase prices for vapers. The nicotine limit prevents cigarette smokers from switching with easy-to-use pod devices that can deliver cigarette-like nicotine levels. The bottle-size limit creates mountains of unnecessary waste plastic.
The NNA also points out that Brexit also creates an opportunity for snus legalization in the U.K. Snus is the the low-risk smokeless tobacco product that has driven smoking and smoking-related disease rates to record lows in Sweden. The snus experience, says the NNA, “shows us that the current distinction between tobacco and non tobacco products does not benefit health.”
In addition to the NNA’s suggestions, the We Vape campaign has a page offering advice to commenters, with excellent suggestions for specific information to include in consultation responses. We Vape says that the U.K. government will feel pressure from the World Health Organization (WHO) to discard its vape-friendly stance, and a strong response to the consultation from vapers could help counteract that influence.