What are TPD regulations?
TPD, or the Tobacco Products Directive, is the set of regulations with which vape-related businesses must comply to legally operate and sell within the EU.
To simplify all the terms you may see, the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) is responsible for the regulations set by TRPR (Tobacco and Related Products Regulations).
MHRA is a regulatory government body whose sole purpose is to ensure the quality and safety of the products we consume, which may have health risks or contain consumable chemicals which could be dangerous.
All tobacco products available for sale in Great Britain and Northern Ireland must comply with TRPR legislation set by MHRA, which is more or less the same as TPD regulations. More on this later!
TPD regulations cover everything from the chemicals used in E-Liquids to the vaping device’s integrity, materials, and tank size. Essentially, you won’t be vaping any dangerous or harmful chemicals as long as you are buying TPD and TRPR-compliant products.
TRPR and TPD regulations ensure the vaping community is a safe space, reducing the risk of misuse and increasing the quality standard of your vaping experience.
Without TPD regulations, potentially dangerous products could enter the market, which would impact the number of smokers converting to vaping over safety concerns (among many reasons) and thus ruin the positive impact of vaping.
Key Facts: TPD Regulations
- Nicotine E-Liquids are limited to 10ml bottles
- Nicotine concentration cannot exceed 20mg/ml (2%)
- 2ml tank size limit for vape kits & disposables
- Nicotine products & hardware must display a clear nicotine warning
- E-Liquid bottles must have childproof caps & tamper-evident seals
TPD vs TRPR
TRPR stands for the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations and serves the same purpose as TPD regulations.
However, TRPR is controlled by UK’s MHRA, whereas TPD is the EU-controlled equivalent; TRPR was only recently put in place due to England leaving the EU.
The most significant differentiating factor is that under TPD regulation, countries such as the Netherlands and Lithuania have flavour bans, whereas TRPR (being UK-only) does not.
How do TPD vaping restrictions affect you?
It is crucial to note that TRPR and TPD regulations are in place for the benefit and protection of us—the vapers— despite being widely perceived as overly restrictive, repressive on the industry, and inconvenient for the user. They’re in place for good reason!
When you purchase any tobacco-related product, such as refillable vapes, disposable vapes, pod vapes, etc., all information relative to health and safety MUST be supplied to the user.
An example of this is the large ‘This product contains nicotine which is a highly addictive substance’ label printed on the front of every vaping product available in the UK.
Notably, however, there’s no nicotine in this product unless you fill it with an E-Liquid that contains nicotine. You can, of course, still use nicotine-free E-Liquid in these vapes regardless of the nicotine warning.
The warning, therefore, while not applicable to every user, is intended to provide complete safety information in the event that you do opt to use nicotine. It’s particularly important that all users have the information they need to make informed decisions, including new users who may not be familiar with how vapes work.
The tank is always tiny in the UK… which I find incredibly annoying.
The TRPR/TPD regulations limit tank capacity to 2ml, which means more frequent refills than vapers in other countries (like the US, who have tank sizes starting at 4ml).
No longer can one have a 10/12ml tank that only requires refilling now and again; you must constantly carry a bottle everywhere you go!
Looking into the tank capacity restrictions, there is only one way to get around the 2ml cap; you can purchase “bubble glass” in the UK which will bring your tank size up to 4ml or 6ml—but only if the glass is available for your specific tank.
For those curious about the highest amount of nicotine you can vape within the TPD regulations, 20mg/ml is now the maximum concentration for any E-Liquid within the UK. If you’re looking for something stronger, you’ll have to make it yourself!
Vapers like myself were complacently accustomed to being able to purchase large bottles of nicotine-containing E-Liquid—before the TPD regulations—meaning you could walk into a shop and have a big bottle of your favourite vape juice already mixed to the perfect concentration of nicotine. Nowadays, this isn’t possible. Despite the larger bottles having childproof caps just like the 10ml bottles, it still breaches the restrictions.
Luckily we can get around the E-Liquid bottle capacity restriction; most vapers who use sub-ohm devices—which consume high volumes of E-Liquid—purchase nicotine shots (10ml bottles of highly concentrated nicotine) to put into large bottles of nicotine-free E-Liquid.
These are known as shortfills, as the bottles sold have space left to be filled up to the top with nicotine shots to achieve the same product as a 120ml bottle of nicotine-containing E-Liquid.
The TPD regulation preventing the larger nicotine-containing E-Liquid bottles creates unnecessary steps that could dissuade users. I don’t think this idea is very effective at all.
Why are TPD regulations important?
For obvious reasons, ensuring the general public’s safety is the main goal and purpose of TPD/TRPR.
If the NHS of the UK cannot be sure that the product is controlled throughout use and production, it cannot be implemented and promoted as a safer option for smokers anywhere near as easily, especially considering that E-Cigarettes are 95% less harmful than tobacco, according to Public Health England.
Let’s look into the reasons why these restrictions are in place.
The tank size restriction was implemented to prevent accidental oral consumption of nicotine-containing E-Liquid, which is dangerous for adults and can be lethal to children and pets.
The same idea applies to nicotine-containing E-Liquid bottles being capped at 10ml.
This is a limit 8ml higher than tanks, which is made possible thanks to the container being childproof, operating in the same manner as Calpol bottles—push down and rotate.
With the overall construction of vaping devices, it’s imperative they mustn’t break or malfunction; withholding this level of quality standard while operating a device which heats up to around 300°C with a lithium-ion battery is very important. It’s not a toy!
And finally, clear warnings are in place so you have the information necessary no matter how much you know.
When I first began vaping, I could buy dodgy homemade E-Liquid, which was retrospectively not an excellent idea. So, I’m pleased this has been knocked on the head. Know what you’re putting into your body, people!
There is nearly always a loophole to make vaping less of a pain. You can make your own E-Liquids to bypass the nicotine and bottle size limits. You can buy bubble glass to extend your tank size.
With the regulations in place, some restrictions simply make being a vaper harder than it needs to be, especially considering how significantly better of an option vaping is than smoking traditional cigarettes.
I view many of the TPD/TRPR regulations as poorly thought through and unnecessarily constrictive, though I respect the importance of overall safety surrounding nicotine-containing products. I would rather have more restrictions than fewer, as it allows everyone to enjoy vaping safely without requiring the extensive knowledge of a professional.
In addition, the UK has perhaps the safest, most tightly-regulated, and prolific vape industry in the world. That has to be at least in part a result of all of these pesky TRPR/TPD regulations.
As long as the products you buy are from a highly respected brand and you’re vaping correctly, know that your personal safety is fine with TPD/TRPR products. You needn’t worry about dodgy chemicals in your E-Liquid.
A regulated vaping community provides the space for more people to get off cigarettes safely, and for those who simply enjoy their vaping hobby, you needn’t worry about quality. Instead, you can focus on the flavours you’d like to try and the devices you want to use!
As always, I hope you found this article interesting and informative; if you want to read more, why not check out our article on some cheeky companies breaking the rules: Overfilled Vape Brands Flood the UK.