The revision of the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) was a real roller-coaster of a ride. The European Parliament (or at least some of it) showed a willingness to listen to the ultimate stakeholders – the people who actually use the products – but the trilogue meetings then effectively saw the Commission and Council going behind closed doors and rewriting the entire proposition.
The end result of the ‘process’ is a mess: it proposes arbitrary limits based on no evidence at all, like the 20mg/ml threshold above which e-cig products magically become medicines. The classification of e-cigs as medicines has been successfully fought under EU law before now, so this seems a very untenable position.
The TPD also acts in ways that are difficult to consider as anything other than disproportionate. Examples of this abound: chemical products sold to European consumers are labelled and packaged based on their risk – not by arbitrarily dictating container size, or filling mechanism.
Similarly neither consumer products, nor tobacco cigarettes, have a measured dose delivered to the consumer. No one has to conduct pharmokinetic studies on the delivery of caffeine from coffee, or cola. Even more contentious products like energy drinks only require a label of how much they contain (something that is already done on e-cig products too). Even tobacco products’ delivery of nicotine is measured using an artificial testing protocol that is widely acknowledged to communicate almost nothing about actual smoker ‘dose’. How, then, could it be proportionate to require this of e-cigs? The only products where this is required are medicines – something that e-cigs have been well established as NOT being.
Totally Wicked’s (TW) case is vitally important, not only because it addresses a lot of these egregious aspects of the Directive, but also because, on the face of it, it has a lot of merit.
It’s important that e-cigs are regulated – but it is even more important that they are regulated in a way that is proportionate, scientifically valid, and that protects consumers – both by ensuring that the products are suitably safe, but also by ensuring that they remain available!
Although TW’s case is about protecting their own business, (which is where any business would have to focus its decision-making, particularly when such significant expenditure is involved), we strongly believe that it also serves to help and protect the vaping industry as a whole – and the thousands of consumers who support it. TW have our wholehearted support, and admiration, for challenging this ill-conceived Directive. At ECITA, we haven’t ruled out taking legal action of our own, but in the interim will offer any support to TW that we can, and also continue to work to mitigate the worst excesses of the TPD through all available routes.