Vaping Industry After Brexit:
What Consumers & Businesses Can Expect
Tuesday 8th December 2020
Could This Be The Time To Start Selling Eliquid?
It's no secret that the vape industry in the UK has been somewhat influenced by the control of the European Union. Some of the tobacco and e-cigarette regulations implement EU law, such as those chosen by the TPD (Tobacco Products Directive) and Tobacco Advertising Directive.
The rules set by the regulatory bodies cover the main elements such as product control, advertising, product standards and packaging - some of the areas in which many vape enthusiasts would argue helps them to maintain their nic-fix at a convenient and affordable rate.
As we enter the last stages of the transition phase it seems the UK isn’t very ready for brexit on many levels - at least at the time of writing this blog anyway. But let's not make this a total Brexit-rant, we’re here today to shed some positive light on the changes that could be ahead for vape folk around the UK.
What Would a No-Deal Brexit Mean For UK Vapers?
At time of writing we are most likely heading for a no-deal, at such surprise, and the government's mantra of “taking back control” could speak louder than many of the outcomes expected by this drive.
However, a no-deal Brexit would mean that the UK vape industry would adhere to the domestic laws set by the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016. The government states “there will be minor amendments to make sure it still works effectively after Brexit” (exit day).
However these small amendments aren’t going to affect much of the industry apparently, but it means The UK will be able to make some technical changes where needed, having gained the power to update the regulations according to new threats, safety/quality standards, and new technologies.
So in short… we don’t know yet - but we’re hopeful that there’s some silver lining in this post-Brexit vape cloud and with good reason.
What Does The UK Health System Say About Vaping?
With regards to the UK’s standpoint on vaping and its implications on public health, we as a nation are one of the worldwide leaders in tobacco harm reduction, as far as vaping is involved anyway.
Public Health England worked on their 6th independent e-cigarette report in 2020, and despite the alarming headlines in the media, it's said that more ex-smokers have switched from cigarettes to vapes, and that “youth uptake remains relatively low”, however, there are still skeptical members of the UK population who believe the risks of vaping aren’t outweighing the risks of smoking enough - but they’ll hear us eventually, or failing that they’ll seek out the NHS’ standpoint on vaping at least.
Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Jeremy Hunt confirms that it's within the UK’s best interest to use the separation from the EU and TPD to “make sure we take opportunities to improve outcomes and protect health”
So, What Could a No-Deal Brexit Mean For UK Vapers?
Well, as we’re in a position to believe that the government, along with the NHS and PHE are somewhat on the same page when it comes to reducing tobacco-related harm with the help of e-cigarettes - so things could look VERY promising for vape manufacturers and consumers if we are able to separate the industry completely from EU regulations.
Who Is The NNA And What Do They Want To Happen?
The NNA is a charity that helps give tobacco users a voice, strongly echoing the government's initiatives to be smoke-free by 2030! In recent news they’ve been proposing some new regulations to No.10’s Munira Mirza, the Director of the government's Policy Unit Taskforce on Health and Social Care, which as described by POTV echoes some of the PMs “take back control” and “levelling up”.
Their letter to No.10 Downing Street (conducted with Clive Bates, worldwide tobacco harm reduction advocate) states 10 proposals for revision, of which compromise the governments need to “promote both public health and personal and economic well being”, just like us here at Mood, they believe that the government should promote the use of smoking alternatives more, as there is not enough being done to reach our 2030 goal.
But with that said there are counter productive measures that are in place currently (2020) that are obstructing the convenience of making a clean, convenient and reliable switch from smoking to vaping and “has the effect of protecting the cigarette trade and implicitly promoting smoking”.
This clearly needs to change if we want to be smoke-free by 2030...
What Do The NNA’s 10 Proposed Policies Include? And What Do We Think Here At Mood?
So here’s the list of 10 Policies. ALL of which are ideal, we’re sure you’d agree. Here's our take:
1. Lift the ban on oral tobacco (snus) and properly regulate all smokeless tobacco
Snus (pronounced “snoose” like “loose”), is almost like chewing tobacco in that it stays in your mouth without being inhaled or ingested. Snus has highly reduced smoking in Sweden and Norway, and this is even seen in their youth smoker population.
2. Raise the limit on nicotine concentration in vaping liquids to allow vaping products to compete more effectively with cigarettes
From our point of view, nicotine salts are powerful in mimicking the sensation of smoking, without compromising on flavour with high nicotine strengths. But not everyone likes to use salts, and there's always a small risk here of actually increasing your addiction by using higher strengths. So were totally behind this, but maybe cap the strength of salts at little over 20mg.
3. Replace bans on advertising of vaping products on TV, radio, internet and in publications with controls on themes and placement
Mainstream media is used frequently to educate us with clever and competitive advertising - but at the moment, consumers aren’t very exposed to the benefits of vaping vs smoking unless they personally seek it out themselves amongst the alarmist media and scaremongering.
To be clear though, we are against the idea of advertising addictive products to those who aren’t already hooked, and without promoting any “desirability”.
4. Replace blanket bans on advertising of low-risk tobacco products with controls on themes and placement
This would be a great turn around, similar to the last point, and allow us to segment the consumers we market to. What would this mean for non-nicotine containing products like shortfills and the actual vape devices? We dcan;t say yet, but either way, we KNOW that the UK couldn’t possibly end up Juul-ing our way to a teen nic-addiction epidemic like our friend across the pond.
5. Replace excessive and inappropriate warnings on vaping products with risk communications that encourage smokers to try switching
We love this proactive approach, rather than all nicotine products being tarred with the same brush (pun intended). As nicotine is not a harmful substance, it makes complete sense to use the e liquid packaging to communicate an alternative product and a less harmful way of stopping cravings - like we do with nicotine gum brands in mainstream media.
6. Replace excessive and inappropriate warnings on non-combustible tobacco products
Totally agree here, almost echoing the latter point - instead of focusing solely on the fact vape products can be addictive. Are we to go ahead and rethink the way we market coffee in that respect? Didn't think so ...
7. Allow and enable candid communication of relative risk to consumers
Very reasonable suggestion here! The idea that vape brand DON’T communicate relative risks helps to fuel the skepticism surrounding it. Vape brand never said they stock “risk-free” products, but simply compliant products - but candid communicating of risk will most likely educate skeptics on the lack of risk.
8. Adopt a fresh approach to pack inserts for both vaping products and cigarettes to encourage switching to lower risk products
A handy idea we toyed with back in 2018, that would educate the consumer more so than the current images of dead people, surrounded by a scary bold font. While these images help to boost a smokers intention to quit, it offers no actionable suggestions or education for the consumer. It’s easy to look away from an ugly image, but in terms of quitting, where is intention without direction?
9. Remove wasteful restrictions on vaping product tank and e-liquid container size that have no discernible purpose
Seeing as many struggle to make the switch due to convenience (or lack of), e-liquid container sizes and tank sizes should be reassessed in order to help new vapers maintain the positive initiative without being given the chance to call the inconvenience card!
And on a green side note - think how much fewer resources are involved when people buy in larger batches. Fewer carbon emissions per unit overall from production, to distribution, to packaging materials, to how often the consumer needs to restock.
10. Recognise and regulate novel oral nicotine products
Along with snuff or “snus” mentioned in the first point, there are a range of other novel products that have been proven to be less harmful than smoking - and have even been developed for that exact purpose, like tobacco heating devices.
What We Expect To See For Vaping Businesses Following Brexit
As vaping is one of the fastest growing industries in the UK, and we have the world's second largest vape market, and our independent market has a worldwide reputation for innovation and quality, and not to mention the local growth sector - which we know has taken a hit during the pandemic.
So if we take this onboard with the promising perception of our public health services, we believe that Brexit could allow us to perfect the industry, the regulations set, and eradicate some of the common obstructions that smokers find on the path to making the big switch!
Is Now A Good Time To Start Selling E Liquid?
With the way that things are going, there's a lot of uncertainty surrounding what could happen following Brexit with Covid still lingering. We’re forecasting even MORE blurred lines in the new year, with trading struggles at customs and borders.
Throwing all your money at your e-liquid venture doesn’t seem much of a gamble, but maybe wait to see how the storm passes first.
That said, business is still booming here at Mood, so why not speak to us about our whitelabel and wholesale e-liquid services. We’re advocates of tobacco harm-reduction and believe we’ll be in the business of developing e-liquid for many years to come, so let's do it together, the more the merrier
From all of us here at Mood in the warm-up to Christmas 2020, have a Merry Brexit and Happy New Normal!