In just a few days the TPD changes the landscape of vaping and tobacco-related products.
For grass-roots vapers Article 14 of the Tobacco Products Directive changes tank size to a maximum of 2ml, refills can no longer be larger than 10ml and every eliquid blend has to be approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency. Vaping equipment also gets a new look as packaging must resemble that of cigarettes, with warnings covering the surface of eliquid boxes.
But for businesses the TPD changes the rules more significantly. You’ll need eliquids to be compliant and can prove what’s in it (chances are you’ll be called on to prove it at some point too), packaging must be compliant.
On a side note, packaging is one area where tobacco products have been pushed even further than vaping. From May 20th all cigarettes will be sold in plain packaging, with no branding or colours to distinguish one from another.
Cigarette 10 packs are also being phased out in May along with the basic price for a pack increasing to nearly £9. Menthol cigarettes will be banned completely.
It’s hoped the ban on smaller packs would reduce the number of smokers among the young and other people who can only afford smaller packs. Smaller rolling tobacco packs are being phased out too with 30g being the smallest size available.
But this can offer you a chance to increase business.
The moves are part of a plan to reduce smokers in the EU by 2.4 million and in May cheaper cigarettes will also see basic price increases. It’s a bid to push people on low-incomes out of the smoking arena altogether. The UK government has said it wants a generation to grow up smoke free. Cancer Research has previously said that two-thirds of smokers start before the age of 18.
But it’s not just in the UK where tobacco and tobacco related products are coming under attack. Australia has all but banned vaping, and plain packaging came into force there in 2012 which saw a 3% drop in daily smokers. The packaging ban is in place in France too. In Russia there’s talk of a complete ban on cigarettes while campaigners in Canada want the smoking age increased to 21.
For vapers reduced tank and refill sizes may be seen as inconvenient but it’s fair to say that the new rules are more skewed to preventing smoking than stopping vapers. Vaping has been largely unregulated and the new rules guarantee vapers’ health from less scrupulous businesses. Now you can trace your eliquid via the MHRA website.
What it Means for Your Business
A crucial but possibly overlooked part of the TPD rules, if you run an eliquid business, is the marketing changes. No longer can you describe an eliquid as the ‘taste of home’, or tastes ‘like nana’s custard’. Gone are the offers and sales promos. Promotion must be fact-based, and not appeal to people under the age of 18, nor feature anyone under the age of 25.
When marketing think How-To Guides and independent reviews (but don’t pay for them because that’s against the new legislation). You can’t create advertising that encourages non-smokers or non-nicotine users to use ecigarettes and similarly cannot make health claims. Nor can they be promoted as a quit smoking aid. You can however suggest ecigarettes as an alternative to smoking.
Opportunities for a New Audience
In the UK vaping enjoys a somewhat pragmatic approach from policy makers. And from May 20th a new wave of people who are being forced out of smoking by economics could be ready to take up the mantle of vaping. It’s the perfect time to at least try to persuade them to give it a try.
Realistically May 20th will come and go like any other day, but if you run an eliquid shop May 20th offers you the opportunity for a whole new audience.