Enforcing basic safety and quality standards within the EU was critical in order to protect consumers and create a level playing field for vaping products, according to Yasuhiro Nakajima, vice president, reduced-risk products at Japan Tobacco International.
Wring a Thought Leader in the Parliament Magazine yesterday, Nakajima said the EU’s revised Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) had created a common framework that had provided the flexibility for vaping to flourish in those member states that were comfortable with it while maintaining safeguards demanded by other countries.
Yet the TPD was not perfect, he said. For instance, relying just on the TPD’s self-notification system was a high-risk approach to ensuring quality.
‘Enforcing basic safety and quality standards is critical in order to protect consumers and create a level playing field for vaping products,’ he said. ‘To not do so would only benefit the unscrupulous.’
The notification problem, Nakajima said, had been compounded by another unintended consequence of TPD rules on e-cigarettes: the fast-growing short-fill e-liquid market. Consumers wanted bigger refill bottles than the TPD allowed. ‘The result is them topping up unregulated non-nicotine bottles with regulated nicotine shots,’ he said. ‘Do health officials know what is in those non-nicotine liquids? No – and this needs to change.’
A final challenge was consumer ignorance on the scientific consensus on vaping’s reduced-risk potential, he said. Public health officials were concerned about the growing gap between what scientists say and what the public believes.
‘The easy solution would be for the European Commission to pass the problem onto manufacturers,’ he said. ‘We could help close the gap if we were allowed to communicate science-based messages to adult consumers.
‘Amendments to the EU rule book should be built on the expert view that vaping products are very different to combustible ones and therefore warrant an entirely different, and more liberal, consumer communication framework.’