The European Court of Justice (ECJ) is the highest court in the EU, and it just officially ruled in favor of TPD Article 20 which requires a costly and complicated MRHA notification process for all e-cig and vaping products. It also restricts advertising practices, limits nicotine strength levels and flavor options, and even regulates the size of vape tanks. For the 28 countries of the EU, this news could have a devastating ripple effect of financial consequences that might end the vaping industry entirely.
But the requirement for MRHA notification process is the real controversy. According to tobacco control experts, notification to The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency will cost approximately 4000 euros per product and could take months or even years to obtain approval. In fact, only one tobacco product has been approved by the MRHA in the past six years.
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E-cig retailers are not only concerned with the excessive notification fees and lengthy approval process, they the EU consists of 28 countries speaking 26 different languages, making the process even more difficult and complex. Meanwhile, EU vaping advocacy groups are taking to social media to express their outrage over the ECJ’s recent ruling. One Independent British Vape Trade Association warns that enforcing TPD Article 20 may cause former non-smokers to relapse back to tobacco cigarettes.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for British American Tobacco issued this statement,
"Despite today’s decision by the European Court of Justice, we stand by our belief that the Tobacco Products Directive is a clear example of the EU overstepping the limits of its authority. The reality is that many elements of the Directive are disproportionate, distort competition, and fail to respect the autonomy of the Member States."
Even vape enthusiasts in the United States are siding with their friends across the pond. Fred Cropper, Managing Director of a Florida vape shop called Totally Wicked issued this public statement,
“Today is a bitterly disappointing end to a battle that has lasted more than two years. At its heart, was a fundamental dispute between those who recognise the public health potential vaping offers and therefore wish to see these products and their use flourish under a robust yet proportionate consumer regulatory regime, and those who either do not understand vaping or see it as a threat to established interests and therefore wish to see e-cigarettes subjected to a disproportionate and inappropriate regulatory regime.”
The regulations will begin taking effect as early as May 20, 2016, only two weeks away. Many of the e-cig restrictions will be rolled out in series of steps, and by late November they should all be in place. Already, 11 European nations have instituted a grandfather clause to TPD Article 20 which extends the final deadline until May 20, 2017.
(Related Article: ROYAL UK MEDICAL GROUP TAKES STRONG STANCE IN FAVOR OF E-CIGS)