It was the referendum heard around the world, as the Brits voted on Friday to leave the European Union (EU) and an impending UK Brexit became a reality. Prime Minister David Cameron officially resigned within hours, the British pound plummeted to its lowest level in 31 years, and the U.S. stock market tumbled a whopping 610 points in a single day of trading.
As the world waits to see what will happen next, most political insiders from both sides of the pond expect the economic volatility and political uncertainty to last for several months or even years. While the future of British vaping may seem like a rather small political issue in comparison to the dissolution of a 28-country coalition, the UK boasts over 1500 local vape shops and e-cig retailers that might see things very differently.
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Is Brexit good or bad for British vapers?
At first glance, the Brexit decision appears to be a big win for British Vapers. Less than two short months ago, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) based in Luxembourg, Belgium ruled in favor of the controversial Tobacco Products Directive (TPD). As a result, all retailers in the European Union are now required to undergo a very costly and complicated MRHA notification process, much like the Premarket Tobacco Product Application (PMTA) process of the U.S. FDA e-cig regulations.
Many UK vapers didn’t particularly like the fact that Belgium and 26 other nations were telling them how to vape. After all, the UK’s Royal College of Physicians had just recently announced that e-cigs and vaping devices should be embraced by federal governments rather than demonized. But as the value of the British pound began to drop, the UK vaping community may now be facing another unforeseen dilemma.
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What’s next for the TPD?
According to EU guidelines, it would normally take the UK about 2-years to divorce itself from the European Union. Since David Cameron is now resigning, a new Prime Minister won’t even be elected for several months. But with economic shock waves reverberating around the world so quickly and so dramatically, Senior EU officials are demanding a quickie divorce to help avoid another global recession.
Unfortunately, this means that the British Vaping Community will not be able to repeal or even alter the TPD legislation until the UK officially leaves the EU. With the perceived brink of worldwide financial disaster looming overhead, passing new e-cig legislation is probably very low in the radar of the British Parliament. But the devaluing of the British pound may be more problematic for UK retailers than the recent Brexit decision, at least for the foreseeable future.
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Are price surges imminent?
Much of the individual hardware for electronic cigarettes is made in China, and all financial transitions take place in U.S. dollars. If the pound remains low for only a couple of weeks, most British retailers should be able to ride things out quite nicely. But if the pound continues to fall or remains at this current exchange rate for an extended period of time, UK vapers will begin to feel the effects very quickly. Prices will soar, and some products may be very difficult to locate. Vapers may be forced to deal with an economic recession at the same time that they are witnessing price surges in e-liquids and hardware.
Currently a petition is making its way around Great Britain demanding a revote on the Brexit referendum. If the government allows a revote and it were to pass, the financial and economic uncertainty may diminish, but the TPD would remain in effect for years to come. It should be very interesting to see how British vapers respond to the EU Brexit. After all, they are facing a possible economic meltdown, threats of Scotland and Northern Ireland leaving the United Kingdom, and a rush in resignations from very high-ranking political leaders. Will the TPD even be on their radar?
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