Brexit is here. The process of the UK leaving the European Union will of course have a significant effect on the majority of industries within the UK. Some positive, some negative and some much more significant than others, but how could it affect the vaping industry?
Updated: 18th March 2020
The British vaping industry is regulated by the Tobacco & Related Products Regulations 2016 (TRPR), which is the UK’s implementation of the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD). The current version of the TPD was published by the European Union in 2014, so as an EU Member State the UK was obliged to bring these national regulations into force.
Vape tank size, e-liquid bottle size, nicotine strength and advertising laws are amongst the restrictions in place. This legislation has been heavily criticised since it came into force and Brexit could present an opportunity for it to be reviewed.
Will the TRPR be reviewed?
Vaping campaigners are keen for the TRPR to be reviewed as soon as possible after Brexit to create a proportionate regulatory regime. Policy makers have agreed to review the legislation on a number of occasions.
As part of the Tobacco Control Plan published in 2017, the government committed to reviewing the TRPR once the UK has left the EU.
The Under Secretary of State for Public Health and Primary Care, Steve Brine also confirmed that the legislation will be reviewed during oral evidence to the Science and Technology Committee in the House of Commons.
A recent article was published titled “Britain will always be a world leader in public health – here’s why”. It was written by Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Jeremy Hunt and he mentions post Brexit opportunities as he states:
“We have already committed to looking closely at the legislation on tobacco control, including on e-cigarettes, to make sure we take opportunities to improve outcomes and protect health.”
It seems quite conclusive that the legislation on vaping will be reviewed, but there are the bigger questions of when, what could change and what should change. Interim CEO of the IBVTA, Gillian Golden was recently interviewed by Vaping Post France about the opportunities for the UK vaping industry after Brexit.
What the IBVTA wants to happen
Gillian Golden was asked ‘Economically, is this an opportunity for the UK vaping industry?’
“The UK has a thriving independent industry that provides consumers with a wide range of quality products. The vape industry is now the fastest growing in the UK and the United Kingdom is the world’s second largest market for vape products after the United States. In terms of local commerce, vape shops are one of the few growth sectors. UK independent vape industry has a worldwide reputation for quality and innovation.
Add to that the well-informed approach taken by many public health actors to vaping and positive attitudes within Public Health England, the Medicines and Health Regulatory Agency and our Ministry of Health, and you see that the UK really has the potential to become a world leader invaping, both to influence the global political environment and to increase exports and stimulate the UK economy.”
Gillian Golden was also asked about what the IBVTA’s hopes and expectations are regarding the UK’s release from the obligations of the TPD.
Amongst other comments she stated:
“It is essential in the Brexit negotiations that the government does not accept any agreement in which the UK is still bound by the EU’s tobacco control policy.”
“IBVTA members are currently exporting from the UK to countries across the EU, and we will continue to be at the forefront of cooperation with the European Commission on policy and taxation issues on behalf of the independent vape industry. We will also continue to advocate for a new, proportionate regulatory regime and work with like-minded independent industry members to achieve this.”
“Vape products in the UK are regulated under the TRPR, which has resulted from the implementation of TPD in the UK. Some aspects of the TRPR,namely e-liquid analysis and reporting, are sound. However, arbitrary restrictions on the size of bottles and reservoirs, restrictions on nicotine content and the prohibition of advertising, far from making vaping more attractive to smokers or even less harmful than smoking, make the vape less attractive and more expensive.
“We asked the government to remove restrictions on bottle size, tank size and nicotine content. We also wish to return to the advertising restrictions set out in the Committee on Advertising Practice (CAP) Guidelines, originally released on October 9, 2014, and to only carry nicotine warning labels on products that actually contain nicotine at the point of sale.”