From the outset, IBVTA made it clear that we did not support the TPD, indeed many IBVTA members had spent a great deal of time and money fighting the TPD over a number of years. However, in April 2016, when IBVTA launched, the TPD was a reality. The challenge for us therefore was not fighting the TPD, but credibly influencing its implementation in the UK.
As a new association, we had to both establish our credibility and at the same time work to secure a more proportionate implementation of the TPD than was being proposed at the time. Through our engagement, we have been able to establish a good working relationship with the key officials in the MHRA and the Department of Health. This relationship has resulted in the following positive changes being made to the TPD as it was implemented in the UK:
- Child proof changed to child resistant
- Tamper proof changed to tamper evident
- Child resistant packaging for nicotine-containing devices rather than child resistant devices
- Batteries, power units, and accessories not contributing to safety profile of emissions, so removed from notification
- Emissions testing of a single (highest) nicotine strength rather than all strengths
- Nicotine delivery based on single (highest) nicotine strength rather than all strengths
- Nicotine dosing and delivery read-across allowed with justification
- Six month pre-market notification reduced to one day for first six months
- Six month pre-market notification reduced to “as soon as the notification is published on MHRA website” after November 2016. Target is less than one month
- Justified read across of emissions test results for devices allowed (if documented)
- Justified read across of emissions test results for flavours in mixtures allowed (if documented)
- Health warning requirement only for unit pack, not bottle inside a pack
- Cross border sales – clarified to Department of Health that other Member States do not have registration systems in place, or legal instruments by which cross border sales can be restricted. Department of Health modified guidance to allow transition
- Leaflets not required where information is available on packaging
- Flavouring chemical components not required to be identified individually as ingredients on packaging.
In addition to this list, we had also been able to successfully propose and the Department of Health to agree to no restrictions on tank sizes and nicotine strengths. However, following consultation with the European Commission, they were told that this would not be possible. This decision, on the part of the Commission, was maddening, particularly as other countries were going ahead without similar restrictions on tank sizes.
Whilst our engagement has produced in the TRPR, a significantly better regulation set than was originally proposed, industry and vapers should be under no illusion that IBVTA is happy with the current situation, we are not.
As a responsible trade association, IBVTA and our members are not opposed to regulation. Some aspects of the TRPR, namely the testing and notification of e-liquids are sensible. However, restrictions on bottle and tank sizes, restrictions on nicotine strengths, and advertising bans, far from making vaping more attractive to smokers or even less harmful compared to smoking, instead make vaping less attractive, more expensive, and will have no impact on the limited risk associated with vaping.
Our work now falls into two strands. Firstly, if “doing the right thing” is not to become a disincentive, as well as a competitive disadvantage, it is vital that these new regulations are enforced. IBVTA is therefore working hard to support members in this area. Members will have added protection through our Primary Authority relationship with Kent Trading Standards, and we have employed Matthew Kersey as our new Compliance Support Assistant to help members with all aspects of compliancy.
Secondly, IBVTA continues to build upon our work to date, to ensure that we can deliver a sector specific regulatory regime that is proportionate and based upon the limited risks posed by vaping. Our aim is that such a regime will allow vaping to achieve its full potential.
So, what are we doing?
Engaging with politicians and officials
We have written to both the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union setting out how the UK can become a world leader in vaping, both in terms of shaping the global policy environment, and also in terms of generating exports and boosting the UK economy. We have been clear that this will only happen if the TRPR is revised at the earliest opportunity. In addition, we have made these points to the Secretary of State for Health, his new ministerial team, and all newly elected members of parliament.
During the recent general election, we produced our own manifesto as part of our engagement with candidates. Copies were sent to candidates and to each party headquarters and it was encouraging to see our arguments being picked up in the local media. In the manifesto, we called for an end to the current restrictions on advertising, tank and bottle sizes, nicotine warning labels on products not containing nicotine, and nicotine strength restrictions.
In our regular meetings with the MHRA, Public Health England (PHE), the Department of Health, and HM Treasury, we continue to make the case for a new and proportionate regulatory regime for vape products. We are making progress and it was encouraging to see the new Tobacco Control Plan for England committing to a review of the TRPR at the earliest opportunity.
Speaking out in the media
We have been vocal critics of the TRPR and its impact on the independent vape industry and vapers in the local and national media. We have appeared on the BBC news, BBC Radio 4 Today Programme, BBC local radio, and LBC Radio. We have also been quoted in The Guardian and The Sun amongst others.
Fighting for the right to openly advertise vape products
IBVTA was supportive of the CAP advertising guidelines published in October 2014. When these were reviewed as a direct result of the TPD, we held a consultation meeting with CAP at our offices in London. So important was this issue that we even opened the meeting up to non-IBVTA members. We were however very disappointed with the new guidelines and made our opinion clear at the time. We have continued to engage with CAP, PHE, and with the devolved institutions and we are making progress. We expect a positive consultation to be launched in Scotland soon and an additional consultation to be launched by CAP in the near future. We are also making progress in getting PHE and others to use their budgets and influence to speak out in the media on behalf of vaping.
Brexit is key for the independent vape industry as it provides an immediate opportunity for the UK to review the TRPR and come forward with our own regulatory regime for vaping. It is therefore vital when negotiating the UK’s withdrawal from the EU that the Government do not agree to any deal where the UK is still bound by EU tobacco control policy, including the TPD and the EU’s tobacco excise regime. We are continually making this point in our engagements with politicians and officials, both in the UK and Brussels.
IBVTA will continue to make the case for a new and proportionate regulatory regime with politicians and officials across the UK and in Brussels. We will continue to work with like-minded people from the independent vape industry and beyond to achieve this.