Since May 2016, regulations set out by the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) have defined which vape products can be sold in the EU and UK.
If you've ever tried to buy e-liquids containing nicotine or other vape products such as vape tanks and disposable e-cigarettes online, you may have seen the term 'TPD compliant' listed in the product description.
But what exactly does TPD compliance mean? What are the specific regulations, and how do they impact your vaping?
Read on to learn everything you need to know about the TPD rules in the United Kingdom and European Union.
What is the Tobacco Products Directive?
The TPD is a directive created by the European Union which sets out rules for the regulation of tobacco products. Article 20 of the TPD regulates which vaping products can be sold and how they are packaged in EU member states and the UK.
Many of the EU member states allowed retailers a year from May 2016 to sell off their remaining stock that was not TPD compliant. Then, the rules were enforced.
Does TPD apply in the UK post-Brexit?
Yes, these regulations still apply in the UK. Although the UK is no longer a European Union member state, it implemented the TPD in 2016 and therefore is still covered by these regulations.
What are the specific regulations set out by the TPD?
Rules for vape tanks and related products
The rules for vape tanks and similar related products such as disposable vapes or disposable pods is that they are allowed a maximum volume of 2ml. They also need to have a nicotine warning sticker on their packaging.
Rules for e-liquids
E-liquids that contain nicotine must have a maximum size of 10ml and a maximum strength of 20mg nicotine. TPD compliance also requires that e-liquid bottles have childproof caps and nozzles that slow the flow of vape juice (specifically, the nozzle must not emit more than 20 drops each minute). Furthermore, e-liquids cannot contain caffeine, taurine, or colourings.
Rules for packaging and labelling
Vape products need to have a large health warning on the label as well as warnings and precautions in the leaflet alongside the product. The rules for this may differ from country to country. Packaging also needs to be child-proof and tamper-evident. Packaging of e-liquid or disposables must clearly state the nicotine strength of the product.
Rules for launching new products
In addition to the other rules, TPD compliance means that vape manufacturers must submit product information including characteristics, formulation, toxicology, emissions, and other details to the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority) six months before they are released to the public. These details are submitted via the EU-CEG portal.
What doesn't the TPD cover?
The TPD also does not regulate national policies about smoking and vaping - these are determined by individual countries. This means that the TPD does not cover regulations around domestic advertising of e-cigarettes and e-liquid, age restrictions, or smoke-free environments.
Why did the rules change in May 2016?
Before the introduction of the Tobacco Products Directive regulations, the EU had different laws about tobacco and related products. E-cigarettes were first acknowledged by the TPD in 2014.
This new policy was designed to improve safety and quality standards, reduce the prevalence of illegal vaping products, and discourage young people from taking up smoking. It aims to provide information about vaping so that consumers can make informed choices.
What does TPD mean for me?
New vapers may not find that the Tobacco Products Directive impacts them very much at all.
The biggest inconvenience may be felt by cloud-chasers and sub-ohm vapers who may find that the 2ml tank size limit requires them to frequently refill their tank, and that they need to buy many bottles of e-liquid.
The maximum nicotine strength of 20mg is more than sufficient for most vapers. 20mg is a very high strength that we recommend to ex-smokers who need a high dosage to tackle cigarette cravings; most vapers stick to a lower amount.
Are there ways to work around these rules?
It's no surprise that many vape and e-liquid manufacturers have found ways to work around these rules. One example of this is the growing popularity of the e-liquid shortfill.
To avoid being limited to 10ml bottles of e-liquid, vape juice manufacturers created the shortfill. This is a larger bottle (often 50ml, 100ml, or even 150ml) of nicotine-free e-liquid with space at the top to add a nic shot. Nic shots, also called nicotine shots, are 10ml bottles of highly concentrated and flavourless nicotine. By buying your flavoured e-liquid shortfill and your nic shot separately, then mixing the two together, it's possible to enjoy a much larger quantity of e-liquid. This lasts longer and provides better value for money.
Are there any benefits to the TPD?
While many e-cigarette vapers were frustrated by the new rules that limited vape tanks to 2ml and e-liquid bottles to 10ml and 20mg of nicotine, it's only fair to say that there have been some benefits to the regulations on e-liquids and electronic cigarettes.
For example, the increased testing that e-liquids need to undergo before being released on the market means that you can be confident that your vape juice is high quality and thoroughly tested. Admittedly, this means that e-juice manufacturers take longer to come out with new products, but on the other hand it means that these new products are likely to be higher quality and better overall.
Love them or hate them, the reality is that every vape manufacturer or vape store in the EU and UK has to ensure they are compliant with the TPD regulations.
At Vaping 101, we've made sure to only stock the highest quality vape devices and e-liquids that are fully compliant with TPD regulations. Our customers can be confident that everything in our store has been carefully tested and made with safe and high quality ingredients or materials.