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The UK’s new vaping laws and how they will affect you

New regulations governing the sale and use of e-cigarettes will come into force on May 18th, as part of the government’s Tobacco Products Directive (TPD). These changes to existing legislation are being brought in to try to control and standardise the vaping industry, and to ensure that the public is fully informed about the vaping products they use. With vaping increasing in popularity across all age groups, it’s important to understand the changes and how they will affect you.

The new rules on e-cigarettes cover five key points:

* The bottles containing e-liquid refills will be restricted to a maximum size of 10ml
* Refillable e-liquid tanks will be restricted to a 2ml capacity
* The nicotine strength of e-liquids will be limited to a maximum of 20mg/mL, unless it has been authorised for medicinal use
* All e-cigarettes and e-liquids will need to be registered with the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA)
* All packaging of e-liquids and vaping products needs to be childproof and tamper-resistant

How will the changes affect you?

On the whole, the vaping industry has reacted positively to the new regulations, with many retailers optimistic that tight rules on the manufacture of e-liquids and vaping products will benefit their customers, by giving them the confidence that these products are safe to use and quality assured. 

However, there is a real likelihood that the changes will cause the price of e-liquids and vaping accessories to rise, at least in the short term, until the industry settles down to the new legislation. As Dan Marchant, of UK vaping retailer, Vape Club, points out, ‘Restrictions on the size of bottles, tank capacity and nicotine strength in e-liquids will cause some headaches for customers and retailers alike”, but this is an inevitable consequence of the new legislation. Mr Marchant was also keen to stress that the new rules made no difference to the safety, quality or convenience of e-cigarettes sourced from reputable suppliers, but they would make things more difficult for smokers who were looking to make the switch to vaping.

It’s widely acknowledged that e-cigarettes are now a hugely popular choice for people looking for an aid to help them give up smoking regular cigarettes. Leon Livermore, of the Chartered Trading Standards Institute, reported in 2016 that e-cigarettes were now the most popular means of stopping smoking in England, and the NHS has also endorsed their use as an aid to quitting. The campaign group Action on Smoking and Health has estimated that there are currently 2.9 million people in the UK who are using e-cigarettes and that 50% of these had given up regular smoking altogether. 

There is a real sense in the industry that the new rules will make life harder for these people, who are trying to quit smoking. Some of those who are currently trying to give up smoking by using e-cigarettes are likely to find that the reduced nicotine strengths mean that their nicotine cravings are not fully satisfied. This could be a problem for heavy smokers, in particular. Also, those who are still smoking regular cigarettes might possibly be put off trying to quit smoking in the future, fearing that using e-cigarettes to help them stop will no longer be an effective option.

Whilst most of the new legislation can be seen in a positive light, especially in the areas around product manufacture, some of the rules introduced could actually be counter-productive. The law is the law however, so vaping retailers and customers will no doubt adapt to the restrictions, and vaping will continue to outpace regular smoking across all age groups in the UK.

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