Several organisations are now asking road users and nicotine users to comment on the future EU rules for e-cigs and nicotine pouches.
"The best thing road users and other nicotine users can do is tell their story. Politicians are listening. How did you quit smoking? What flavours do you use? It matters!" says Michael Landl, World Vapers Alliance
Since the European Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) started including vapour products in 2016, the cross-border rules have been implemented in most EU countries. The rules have affected virtually the entire market, for both users and entrepreneurs. Clear examples are the maximum size of e-juice bottles containing nicotine (10 ml), the size of tanks (max 2ml - a rule that actually does not fully apply in Sweden), a cap on the nicotine concentration of 20mg/ml and strong restrictions on marketing and advertising. In addition, every part of an e-cigarette (whether it is a packet of vaporiser, e-juice, tank or mod) must have a clear nicotine warning pasted on the packet.
Businesses and users adapted
In the shadow of the TPD rules, companies have found solutions to sell their products in a more consumer-friendly way. Larger bottles of non-nicotine e-liquid, known as 'shortfills', with space for the addition of concentrated nicotine have become standard for those using lower nicotine strengths (3-12 mg/ml). Those who want a tank with more space can easily change the glass on their tank to a larger one. And so on.
TPD has missed the mark
According to many observers, the TPD rules have therefore missed the mark - largely due to ignorance of how e-cigarettes and vaping work in practice. The TPD was based on the regulation of smoking products. But vaping and e-cigs do not smoke like cigarettes. They are more about technology, cooking and customisation. The result was rules that no one understood the point of. In the UK, which recently left the EU, health policy makers, together with users and researchers, are discussing the possibility of scrapping large parts of the TPD that have become part of the legislation. The aim is to increase the availability of alternative nicotine products and to entice smokers to switch to vaping.
Damage minimisation part of the plan
In the coming year, the TPD is due to be evaluated and revised. New nicotine products have appeared on the market, such as nicotine pouches, and today's e-cigarettes are very different from those available before 2016.
At the same time, the EU has launched its Beating Cancer Plan. an initiative to combat cancer. One of the targets is a tobacco-free EU (where less than 5 per cent smoke) by 2040. Today, nearly 20 per cent of the population smokes (compared to 5 per cent in Sweden). When the plan was adopted by the EU Parliament, it included a paragraph on harm minimisation. According to Parliament, it is important to encourage more smokers to switch to less harmful nicotine products. At the same time, Parliament stresses that the EU should consider limiting flavourings in harm reduction products such as e-cigarettes and nicotine pouches. This is to prevent young people and non-smokers from becoming addicted to nicotine.
Important to bring out the flavours
Critics say the EU Parliament risks painting itself into a corner. It will be very difficult to find a balance where products that compete in the market with traditional cigarettes cannot even taste good. The risk is that smoking will remain the most popular way to use nicotine, both for minors and adults. Michael Landl, Director-General of World Vapers Alliance therefore calls on all nicotine users to tell the European Commission how harm minimisation products work in practice.
"Tell your story. You can get help with this on our website. Or write briefly and clearly what, for example, e-cigarettes mean to you, how you quit smoking and which flavours worked for you. We know from experience that politicians are willing to listen to the stories of users - everyone can influence the future" says Michael Landl.