Wicked Gets Day in Court against TPD
British vaping supplies dealer Totally Wicked has won the first round of its bid to challenge the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) in the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in Luxembourg. The case has been accepted for the docket, but will probably not be heard until 2015, in advance of projected implementation anyway.
"Article 20 of the TPD would result in electronic cigarettes being subjected to a stricter regulatory regime than some tobacco products," said Fraser Cropper, the company's Managing Director. The basic thrust of the challenge is an objection to the onerous burdens imposed by advertising bans, packaging restrictions, and massive amounts of required paperwork, which would place a disproportionate impediment on the free movement of goods and provision of services, thus placing the product at a competitive disadvantage to combustible cigarettes.
It is vital that our industry is allowed to mature within a proportionate regulatory framework, which supports appropriate controls and safety requirements, and necessary social responsibility and continues to provide consumer choice
The TPD was approved in February 2014 after long and contentious legislative wrangling, complicated by intentional delaying tactics by lobbyists for Big Tobacco. After hearings in the spring and summer, the EU Parliament voted in October on a bill that would have classified electronic cigarettes as therapeutic devices, a move that would have imposed even more onerous burdens, and would have thrown the product into the grasp of "Big Pharma" – powerful pharmaceutical companies. This measure was defeated.
Then, after more high-level negotiations behind closed doors, a compromise was reached between the the EU Council (the body comprising one representative from each member nation) and the EU Commission (the bureaucratic arm of the Union, and the initiator of actions such as this one). The new agreement proposed classifying electronic cigarettes as tobacco related products and imposing restrictions similar to those on combustible cigarettes, along with burdensome paperwork requirements for certification. This is the measure that the EU Parliament passed last February, scheduled for implementation in 2016. Vehemently opposed by vapers' groups Union-wide, this is the measure that Totally Wicked has won the right to challenge formally in court.
Founded in 2008, the UK firm has become one of the leading suppliers of vaping products, and also a leading voice in the harm-reduction controversies that have swirled around vaping. The firm now has operations in the US and Germany as well as its base in the UK.
Advocate Susan Garrett, who heads the legal team handling the company's case, calls the "preliminary reference proceedings" a "key milestone" in the opposition to a "misconceived and disproportionate attempt to regulate electronic cigarettes," an attempt that would have the effect of "stifling this emerging market."