Whatever happened to the TPD?
One of my biggest frustrations in life is that it seems everyone is assuming the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) Article 20 has gone away. Way back in 2013 there was a vocal outcry from the vaping community and the e-cigarette industry, campaigns were launched, vapers went to Brussels to try to defend their rights.
Somehow this crescendo seems to have been followed by silence. We can still buy 6ml Tanks, a 20ml bottle of whatever flavour and strength e-liquid we want, and there doesn’t seem to be any restriction on what devices we can buy or where we can buy them from. So what happened to the TPD Article 20, and what was everyone so worried about? Here’s what I’m worried about, and I’ll put it in capital letters so it doesn’t get lost: THE TPD IS STILL HAPPENING, IT IS THE LAW, AND IT WILL BE APPLIED.
For anyone thinking it might not get fully applied, or legislators might change their minds because they realise it’s so absurd on so many points, laws don’t work like that. It has actually been a legally binding document since April 3rd, 2014, and all 28 EU Member states have a limited time in which to implement its rulings. The rulings are no less scary than they were when so many were fighting them in 2013, they are in fact rather more scary because as things stand, there is no way of stopping them.
So, aside from the Totally Wicked legal challenge to the inclusion of e-cigarettes in the TPD, what has actually happened since the campaigning frenzy of 2013? From a vaper’s perspective, it doesn’t seem very much; from an industry perspective perhaps a little more; from my own perspective quite a lot has happened, and much of it has been rather negative. This brief introduction will frame a number of articles about what has been going on in the background, and the list of articles will be added to as this curious chapter unfolds.
Background report 1.
BSI PAS 54115 and Standards
There’s currently the potential for 3 standards to be published for e-cigarettes, but a proposed CEN publication will override any national standards within a set time period after its publication. Will these be good for vapers? Will they be good for the existing e-cigarette industry? I have some serious doubts about whether anything positive can be generated whilst TPD Article 20 is still law, as it disproportionately favours disposable e-cigarettes and big businesses with small product ranges. It is very concerning that many such businesses are owned by organisations that produce combustible cigarettes, and those people cannot have the same interest in the survival and blossoming of the e-cigarette industry that we do.
In July 2014 ECITA announced they were sponsoring the publication of a Publically Available Specification through the British Standards Institute. The idea behind this was to promote (in both senses of the word) good manufacturing and product stewardship practices within the e-cigarette and e-liquid industry – which seemed at the time a very noble intent. This document had reached rather concerning levels of complexity by the time of its release for public review in October 2014, receiving an unprecedented number of comments from industry and other interested parties. It has subsequently been reviewed by its Steering Group, and is timetabled for final review in April 2015 with publication in May. The difficulty for the authors of BSI PAS 54115 was that they needed to make something that was TPD compliant to guide the industry, but the TPD is incredibly disproportionate and out of step with the way the industry has developed over the last few years. It is a long and relatively complicated document, and whether it stands the test of time remains to be seen, but it’s a good (if rather complex) start at allowing the industry to self-regulate.
Of course the TPD is European Union legislation, so at the same time as the BSI PAS was being developed, French industry group FIVAPE started work with their national standards agency AFNOR on another standard. The French system for developing standards is faster moving than that of the BSI, and consequently on January 20th 2015 their proposal to European standards agency CEN was given approval to form a technical committee for the generation of a European standard for e-cigarettes.
As an engineer, I’m concerned about all this, but very keen to contribute to proportionate standards that make our products better and safer; the TPD is a huge obstacle standing in my way, but I can understand legislators and politicians were trying to do the right thing in what I view to be a very misguided way. As a vaper, the TPD is going to change the way I choose to consume nicotine almost completely; for that I cannot forgive them.