As we go to press, the tobacco industry remains confused over the EU’s tobacco products directive (TPD2) which theoretically came into effect on May 20 and has wide-ranging effects on most players, devastating effects on others.
“The measures in the directive are so complex that regulators in many EU countries have struggled to draft the national laws it requires – leaving everyone confused in a last-minute scramble to comply ahead of the deadline,” says Ben Townsend, JTI’s EU affairs vice-president. He says these are “extreme rules on tobacco” and that Europe will now have “a package of some of the strictest anti-tobacco measures in the world.”
Local countries were to adopt laws and regulations to match up with the provisions of TPD2, but many haven’t…as of yet.
There has been lots of buzz in the press about TPD2’s effect on the largely unregulated and growing e-cigarette business, so first get that out of the way noting these major points: nicotine concentrations limited to 2%; childproofing of bottles required; tank limits for liquids at 2 ml; most advertising is banned; and individual member states may ban internet, cross border sales. However, on the positive side, lengthy and expensive brand registrations are not required (as they are in the US now). There are surprisingly no official age limitations on purchase, and none of the rules apply for e-cigarettes for medicinal purposes.
But, the effects of TPD2 on the traditional tobacco industry may be more wide-ranging. Here are the bullet points effecting cigarettes and RYO:
- Larger and mandatory pictorial health warnings covering 65% of the front and back of packaging;
- Ban on “characterizing” flavors in cigarettes and RYO and this includes spices (goodbye kretek). The ban provides an exemption for menthol which will be phased out by 2020;
- Cigarette packs must have 20 cigarettes each and have a “cuboid” shape. Slim and irregularly shaped packs are banned;
- Mandatory electronic reporting on ingredients;
- Track and trace system for cigarettes and RYO must be in place by 2019 and extends to other tobacco products by 2024.
And, hours before TPD2 came into effect, Philip Morris lost its challenge in the EU courts against the UK, France, and Ireland’s plain packaging plans. PM’s claims that plain packaging would destroy valuable property/trademarks rendering production indistinguishable from one another fell on deaf ears, as did PM’s argument that adopting different tobacco packaging regulation by various countries goes against the desired harmonization of laws enabling free unhindered trade between member states. PM will not appeal the ruling
TPD2 was approved in May 2014 and the two-year grace period to May 2016 gave member countries the opportunity to transpose the directive into national law … but this has not happened.
An unclear statement from the European commission on May 20 says that “[the commission congratulates] the countries that have already transposed the directive into national law, and encourage an effective enforcement of the new rules in all member states without delay. Once the new rules are applied and enforced in all 28 EU countries they will play a vital role in amplifying and consolidating the progress made to date.”
That date is not known.