November 18, 2020 5 min read

TPD Laws in Europe (Tobacco Product Directive) and what will happen after Brexit

The Tobacco Product Directives (TPD) is a directive initiated by the European Union to regulate the sales and merchandise of tobacco and tobacco-related products in the EU. That’s why TPD is also called the European Tobacco Product Directive (EUTPD) (2014/40/EU).

The aim of this directive to improve the operations of the internal market for tobacco and related products while protecting the health of European citizens.

The first revised TPD of the European Commission entered into force on 19 May 2014 and it was reordered into national tobacco control legislation on 20 May 2016.

Note that this directive covers all activities related to tobacco products, from the manufacture, presentation, to the sale of these products, which includes cigars, roll your own tobacco, smokeless tobacco, pipe tobacco, electronic tobacco, cigarillos, and herbal smoke products.

The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is the competent authority in the UK responsible for the notification scheme for all e-liquids, e-cigarettes, and refill containers. So the MHRA has to be properly notified before sales of any e-cigarette product in the UK.

That said, the European Union and its member states have concluded on several tobacco control measures and compiled them into legislation. This is targeted at improving the function of the tobacco market.

The New Rules under the TPD Directives

The new directive recognized that its success is dependent on the co-operation of all member states that needs to implement these laws in their various jurisdictions.

Below is a summary of the new rules under the TPD directives

  • Ingredients

  • All tobacco products are mandated to report ingredients through a standardized electronic format

  • Substances that are found in Roll Your Own (RYO) products and cigarettes that are part of the “priority list” must follow enhanced reporting obligations

  • Member states should make it pertinent for manufacturers to conduct studies on the effect of each additive on the health of consumers

  • The mandatory reporting on nicotine and carbon monoxide for cigarettes and emission levels of tar should be maintained.

  • Health Warnings

  • It is now mandatory to display healthy warnings on the largest surfaces of packages for smokeless tobacco products. The size and placement of the warnings should follow specific rules.

  • A clear health warning has to cover 56% of the front, top, and back of the pack. This should also be done for Roll Your Own (RYO) tobacco packs.

  • Text health warnings have to cover 50% of the sides of the pack (for example – quit smoking now- it kills), replacing the printing of nicotine, tar, and carbon monoxide levels.

  • Any Member State that wishes to add labeling requirements and graphic warnings beyond the TPD specifications can now do so (for example, some countries now have plain packaging legislation).

  • Member State can follow their discretion for the labeling requirements of products that are used less-frequently, including smokeless tobacco, pipe tobacco, cigarillos, and cigars.

  • Flavorings

  • Flavorings in RYO tobacco products and cigarettes that give a different flavor other than tobacco are banned.

  • The essential flavorings, including sugar that is needed for the manufacture of tobacco products, can still be used.

  • The use of menthol as a characterizing flavor will be banned from 2020

  • A European advisory panel will be introduced to help the Member States assess and determine whether an additive adds a characterizing flavor to tobacco.

  • Less patronized products such as pipe tobacco, smokeless tobacco, cigarillos, and cigars are exempted from the ban placed on characterizing flavors. However, if the sales volume increases significantly, the exemption will be revised and lifted.

  • Packaging

  • The use or sale of slim cigarette packs is highly prohibited

  • Cigarette packs should maintain a cuboid shape with at least 20 cigarettes per pack. However, RYO packs can be cylindrical or cuboid in shape and must have a minimum volume of 30g of tobacco

  • No misleading or promotional texts are allowed on the packs, including a suggestion that a particular product is less harmful or having any lifestyle benefits

  • Cross-Border sales

  • Before making any sales of tobacco products cross-border, retailers have to notify the appropriate authorities and gain approval.

  • It is allowed to make cross border distance sales at EU-level, but member states have the right to ban sales.

  • Once Member States place a ban on cross-border sales, no retailer is permitted to supply consumers in that region.

  • An electronic age-verification system must be implemented by all retailers to ensure their products do not get to children and youths.

  • Snus

  • The newly introduced flavorings ban does not include snus.

  • The sale of snus remains illegal in all Member States under the EU except Sweden and no change in legislation on snus.

  • E-cigarettes

  • E-cigarettes are subjected to regulations as consumer products unless a manufacturer is ready to seek a medicinal license on the claim that e-cigarettes are a smoking-cessation tool for smokers.

  • E-cigarettes will be subjected to the following as a consumer product:

    • A maximum nic strength of 20mg/ml, which is proven to be adequate for smokers looking to switch to the use of e-cigarettes.

    • Containers, tanks, and cartridges containing nicotine liquids must be tamper- and child- proof.

    • Every nicotine-liquid containers should hold no more than 2ml for disposable e-cigarettes 10ml for refillable e-cigarettes

    • No promotional elements are allowed on e-cigarette packs

    • It is mandatory to display health warnings, a list of all ingredients, instructions for use, specific product’s nicotine content, and information on toxicity and addictiveness on the packaging.

    • The restriction on tobacco products for EU cross-border advertising are also required for e-cigarettes

  • Every manufacturer must notify appropriate authorities about new products before introducing them into the market, and a report on the sales figure must be issued to the Member States on an annual basis. Capturing this information gives authorities enough data to monitor this new market.

  • Member States have the right to make some decisions to regulate e-cigarette, especially on flavors, age limits, and advertising without cross border effects.

What will happen after Brexit?

Everyone has been wondering “what will happen following Brexit?” Well, if the UK comes out of Europe, they’re likely to negotiate a settlement that agrees with complying with single market regulations.

So the UK can come out of Europe and still have the TPD, without any say on its future. That’s the most likely outcome because the Parliament will be jammed up with legislation and other pressing exit conditions.

Final Remark

The TPD is implemented in the UK by the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016, and it came into force on 20 May 2016. It covers regulations for producers, retailers, and consumers, covering e-cigarettes, and refill containers.

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.