Tuesday, 22 December 2015

To Squirt Or Not To Squirt, That Is The Question

I've written recently about some quite astounding EU idiocy contained in the TPD towards e-cigs, specifically on how vaping devices and liquids must be labelled and not advertised from May next year, so it's nice to bring some positive news for a change.

Well, I say that but yesterday's release by the Department of Health of guidelines for refilling mechanisms doesn't seem to have gone down well. There has been an outpouring of consternation - even anger - on social media and I really can't understand why.

Here's what the guidance says:
Requirements for the refill mechanism  
1. Member States shall ensure that refillable electronic cigarettes and refill containers are only placed on the market if the mechanism by which the electronic cigarettes are refilled complies with one of the following conditions: 
(a) it entails the use of a refill container possessing a non-detachable nozzle at least 1cm long, which is narrower than and slots comfortably into the opening of the tank of the electronic cigarette with which it is used and possessing a flow control mechanism that emits no more than 20 drops of refill liquid per minute when placed vertically; 
(b) it operates by means of a docking system which only releases refill liquids when the electronic cigarette and refill container are connected. 
Now, for anyone who isn't familiar with e-cigs there are two ways of refilling a refilable. The first is simply by pouring it in like you would oil into your car, as this pic (shamelessly stolen from YouTube) illustrates.

The other method - in refillables currently being sold - is via a docking system, as described here.
VUSE Port: Liquid tank system that uses a Dock & Lock system to refill the device. The closed system prevents users from opening the top or the tank. To refill, the port and bottle must be locked together.
It would appear to me that - although the entire TPD is overweening and largely unnecessary - at least this part has been handled with a modicum of common sense. There are two refilling methods currently on the market which the EU has decided must be regulated, and they have set out a regulation for both of them. It is not an either/or situation, merely something on paper which sets out how member states should apply the regulations to each refill method. Identifying what is currently being used and applying sensible regulation is exactly what a responsible regulator should be doing.

More importantly, though, it would seem that the biggest worry about the EU's requirement for refill mechanisms to be "leak free" has been avoided. They will not be banned outright as many had feared, including me.
If the e-cigarette is the refillable kind, it is particularly threatened. The refill chamber will be restricted to 2ml maximum, but even if the tank ducks under that arbitrary threshold, it will have to be a leakproof (is anything leakproof?) and have a leakproof filling mechanism. The guidance behind this hasn’t been formulated yet so who really knows what that would entail? If a politician is behind it, you just know that the precautionary principle will apply and refillable tanks will be outlawed entirely just to make sure.
I'm rather happy to have been proven wrong.

In fact, the only real problem is that glass bottles will be effectively outlawed because they come with pipettes instead of a nozzle. Having said that, glass bottles would be permitted if a nozzle could be added and you could squeeze them, but I don't think the laws of physics allow that just yet.

So this really looks like a big nasty potential bullet with vapers' names on it has been dodged. Liquid manufacturers will have to put their products in plastic 10ml bottles with a 1cm nozzle, but many do anyway. It's hardly a business killer in my opinion. Yes it's a bit silly considering e-liquid can only contain up to 2% nicotine so the regs are a form of absurd panic-mongering, but it won't affect consumers too unduly at all.

However, if you feel there's something I've missed please do share. I'd like to know of the demons I'm quite simply not seeing.

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