Over the past several months concerned vapers around the globe have been tuning in to developments in the regulation of electronic cigarettes throughout the European Union. Many vapers have referred to the proposed laws as a ban, while a portion of politicians and public health advocates have stressed that rules are needed for public safety. Today, the European Parliament held a vote that will advance electronic cigarette regulation throughout Europe into it’ next phase. With the approval of individual nations, which is sure to happen without a fight, vapor products in Europe will be subject to a variety of new laws. The vote was overwhelmingly in favor of the proposed bill, which also included updated regulations for tobacco cigarettes.
The aspects of the legislation that directly affect electronic cigarettes apply two levels of regulation. There are general rules set by the EU which will classify electronic cigarettes and juices as tobacco products. There is also the option for individual European nations to choose to classify e cigs as medicinal products within their borders, and otherwise regulate where and which vapor products are sold. The individual parts of the legislation that will most affect vapor include:
*The ability for the EU to outlaw particular types of cartridges (which may include tanks in the future) across the European Union if three individual nations illegalize the same type of cartridge.
*A cap of 20mg/ml of nicotine in any e liquid sold in the EU
*Vapor products will have to carry health advisories ( the legislation requires cigarette packaging to be comprised of warnings across 65% of the package)
*Vapor products will have to be child-proofed
*Advertising limitations in any nation that classifies vapor products as being tobacco products; which will include advertising bans on: television, radio, and anywhere else that tobacco ads are not allowed
*Potential bans on “cross-border” sales of e cigs, which would have the ability to significantly reduce online sales if implemented
*Manufacturers will have to report new product launches to national governments before the new products can be sold
*Manufacturers will have to report on sales figures within each nation’s borders on an annual basis
There are some aspects of this legislation that vapers should be happy with. European vapers will still be able to purchase refillable devices, allowing them to switch between brands of e liquid and better customize their devices. There are also no limitations of flavors as some had previously feared. While it is scary that the same bill limits flavors on tobacco cigarettes, and even plans to eliminate menthol options by 2020, e liquids will still come in a variety of palate pleasing blends. It’s also a plus that the EU opted not to regulate e cigarettes as medicinal devices continent-wide. This would have put far stricter regulation on both devices and juices, and likely priced a ton of smaller manufacturers out of the market. In essence the EU decided not to hand the vapor industry over to pharmaceutical companies and Big Tobacco. These factors are wins for the European vapor community.
It will be necessary to keep an eye on how legislation may change for flavors, and which individual nations will classify e cigs as medicinal products. The truth is that the political process never stops, and legislation can be changed at any time. These rules will not go into place until 2016. It is vital for vapers in Europe and abroad to stay abreast of changes to vapor laws, whether they take hold tomorrow or ten years from now.