The ‘Tobacco Products Directive’ came into effect in the UK in 2016, bringing with it a vast amount of legislation aimed at nicotine products. Suddenly, rolling tobacco could only be purchased in large quantities, 30g minimum, and cigarettes could only be sold in packs of 20, with any and all distinctive branding stripped away to make way for health warnings and unappealing packaging.
Any product which contained nicotine was subject to the new laws, which included not only smokers, but also the vast majority of vapers – because of e-liquids. The legislation rolled out across vaping affected vapers and vaping industries, from manufacturers to merchants. E-liquid containing any amount of nicotine can now only be purchased in 10ml containers at a max-strength of 20mg of nicotine. On top of this, e-cigarette tanks can now only have a maximum capacity of 2ml.
Vapers were immediately aggravated by this seemingly misguided legislation; in a blind effort to prevent youngsters from getting their hands on nicotine, lawmakers were now making life harder for those already making efforts to reduce their nicotine intake with the use of electronic cigarettes. Not only were they increasing the likelihood of vapers returning to smoking due to the new inconvenience of their habit, but the TPD actively contributed to plastic waste across the world, with the bottles used for e-liquid still being difficult to recycle.
Vaping, however, is an industry and movement driven by innovation, and it did not take long for people to notice certain loopholes in the legislation which could, with a little imagination, be exploited to everyone’s benefit. Let’s highlight some of the ways in which you can work around the TPD regulations.
TPD forbids the sale of nicotine-infused e-liquid in containers larger than 10ml, which if you’re a sub-ohmer can be less than a day’s vape. However, e-liquid which contains no nicotine is immune from such prohibitive rules. ‘Short fill’ e-liquids are large bottles of e-liquid which contain no nicotine and leave an amount of empty space in the bottle, often appearing in the form of 50ml of e-liquid in a 60ml bottle. Any location which stocks short fill bottles will be guaranteed to also sell what are referred to as ‘nic-shots’. A nic-shot is a 10ml bottle of flavourless, high-strength e-liquid which a consumer is entirely within their legal right to add to their short fill bottle. Usually the mathematics of nicotine ratio will have already been worked out by the manufacturer, meaning there’s no hassle for vapers. For example, a 10ml nic-shot with a nicotine strength of 20mg, added to 50ml of 0% e-liquid, will result in a dilution that raises the overall strength of the whole 50ml to approximately 3mg. Again, there is no law in the UK against the possession of large quantities of nicotine-infused e-liquid, simply its sale.
It’s all well and good being able to carry more than 10ml of e-liquid in a single container, but if your tank is still limited to 2ml capacity then it’s a paltry victory. This is where ‘extender kits’ come into effect. Companies like SMOK, who know the vast majority of their user-base are sub-ohmers, have made the smart move of developing simple-to-install ‘extenders’ which allow the vaper to increase their tank’s capacity in a way that does not put the retailer in a compromising legal position. For instance, the TFV12 Prince Tank comes fitted with a slim glass casing which, with the large TFV12 coils, abides by the legal limit of 2ml capacity. However, SMOK have also produced the Bulb Glass; simply purchase the Bulb Glass from an e-cigarette retailer, unscrew your tank’s fittings exactly as you would when changing a coil, slip the glass off the rubber stoppers and replace it with the larger Bulb Glass. Screw your tank back together and suddenly your TFV12 Prince Tank has an 8ml e-liquid capacity! There’s no law preventing a retailer from selling you a piece of glass, and how you choose to use it is entirely up to you.
These examples are just two ways in which the TPD has been outmanoeuvred by vapers. There is also the possibility that leaving the European Union will result in rolling back a number of EU regulations, with the TPD being one of them. You can read more about TPD regulations here.