Shhh! Can you hear that sound? It’s the noise of a thousand shuffling papers in Brussels passing laws that will change the way that you vape, forever.
A recent article in the Independent
declaring that “from May 20th, how you vape will change” has vapers and vape shop owners alike running for cover. And it’s broadly true: in May a raft of legal changes known collectively as Article 20 of the Tobacco Products Directive will come into power, forever changing how vaping is regulated within the European Union (that includes us too).
I know, I know: the fact that e-cigarettes are even being called ‘Tobacco Products’ in the first place is an insult (given that they contain no tobacco), but plenty of backroom finagling and dodgy deals have gone into making the law what it is. That’s democracy for you. Here are the new rules and how they will affect us cogs in the machine:
1. Smaller refill containers
E-liquid containers will be limited to 10 ml or less. This means that bulk-buying will no longer be an option, effectively making vaping more expensive than before. Bottles above this size, like the 180 ml The Muffin Man
, will become collectors’ items overnight.
2. Nicotine strength capped
Maximum nicotine strength will be capped at 20mg, making it harder for heavy smokers to transition without experiencing withdrawal pangs. Most of the Tablites range
, as well as VIP
and Jac Vapour
are stronger than the proposed limits and will be illegal (and therefore more appealing) come May 20th.
3. Smaller tanks and cartridges
Tanks will be limited to 10 ml and cartridges will be limited to 2 ml in what Clive Bates (formerly of Action on Smoking and Health) calls “bureaucratic harassment”. A combination of this rule and the above means that not only will we have weaker e-juice, but we’ll also have less of it than we are used to. Remind me again why being part of the EU is a good thing?
4. Child-proof bottles
Won’t someone please think of the children?! In all seriousness, I think that this is a fairly sensible decision. Fewer children vaping on all my new e-juice is definitely a good thing.
5. Greater government scrutiny (and the power to ban…)
E-cigarette brands will have to be more transparent about the ingredients used and the manufacturing process — in itself not necessarily a bad thing. But the process of bringing a new product to the market will become much more expensive, stifling innovation and unfairly stacking the deck in favour of the tobacco companies that have more money to play with. More ominous still, the wording of the law enables governments in Europe to ban any e-cigarette product that they feel justified to do so. This could mean that your favourite product gets taken off the market without so much as a by-your-leave.
However, it’s not all doom and gloom. While the new rules are strict (some might even say draconian) it’s not going to be the end for vaping.
Before I started the Electric Tobacconist, I worked for the family business: Fantastic Fireworks
. We had a similar major legislative change which had people in the industry worried. It was predicted that the changes would make fireworks too tame and that no-one would want to buy them anymore. Everyone panicked, except our Chinese suppliers who went to work as usual and devised exceptionally clever ways to circumvent the new laws. In the end, they basically just put the high-powered fireworks in a cage and provided customers with cheap gloves and scissors to cut through the cage before use. Catastrophe was averted, and the fireworks industry carried on much as it always had done.
The same thing will happen with e-cigarettes. Whatever legal challenges are invented will be met, for the simple reason that people have tried vaping for themselves and know that it’s better than smoking. Bring on 2016.
What are your thoughts on how vaping will change in May?