Brexit: Impact on e-cigarette regulation

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On the morning of the 24th June we woke up to the news that – after 43 years of union – the United Kingdom had voted to leave the European Union. By a narrow margin the Vote Leave campaign had won and a ‘Brexit’ is underway.

These are uncertain times and unchartered waters as no country has ever left the EU. It throws up a number of questions about the future of the UK: not least our future relationship with the EU and our position in the world.

But how will the result affect the UK e-cigarette regulations?

We expect to see no significant changes as a result of this decision. At least in the short term (2 years), it is ‘business as usual’.

In the longer term, we may see minor changes in the administrative requirements such as declarations and other paperwork but we do not expect a change in the top level requirements such as nicotine concentration limit (>20 mg/ml) or change in the maximum tank size (>2ml). We see no credible reason why the UK would decide to change these restrictions.


Responsible Person


There are some areas that may be directly affected by the UK exit such as the ‘responsible person’ requirement.

Article 20(2)(a) of the Tobacco Products Directive requires a producer to have an entity in the EU. Non-EU manufacturers/importers may have intentions to set up a ‘responsible person’ in the UK. Naturally, once the UK leaves the EU this would no longer be an option.


Our recommendation


For the time being our recommendation is to continue as planned. The process of exiting the EU is long and complex so we do not expect a quick exit. Formal negotiations are unlikely to start until the autumn. Despite calls from Brussels to start the official leaving process, only the UK can trigger Article 50 of the Treaty. Even once the official process starts it would take 2 years.

We shall monitor the regulatory environment as it develops and advise our clients accordingly.


What’s next for the UK?


The options for UK after leaving EU are, with increasing separation from the EU:

  1. The UK remains part of the European Economic Area, like Norway.
  2. The UK adopts bilateral trade agreements similar to Switzerland.
  3. The UK remains in the customs union, like Turkey.
  4. The UK relies on World Trade Organization rules, which includes customs duties and some barriers to trade.


Notes on UK’s EU referendum

The vote is only advisory and not binding. Parliament is not legally bound to act in accordance with the vote.

Unlike England and Wales, Scotland voted by majority to stay in the EU. This has led to calls for Scottish Independence to enable them to remain in the EU.

The referendum result has caused upheaval in the two dominant political parties. Our Prime Minister resigned and both parties are now undergoing leadership contests.

The UK voted to leave the EU by 52% to 48%.

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