the vape police

Spying – Snooping and Sneaky Tricks to Enforce the TPD

Snooping busy-bodies and anti-terrorism surveillance laws are just part of the tools Trading Standards officers may be using to enforce the TPD which comes into law later this month.

The Tobacco Products Directive – [TPD] is the EU’s draconian legislation seemingly only introduced to curb the growing popularity of e-cigarettes and vaping as a sure fire way to quit smoking.

Despite the industry self-regulating perfectly well over the last decade or so the EU felt the need to heavily legislate both vaping devices and e-liquids.

You can read more about the TPD and the impact it will have on your vaping choices via our article: The TPD What Does it All Mean?.

Under the new laws which come into force on May 20th – your local ‘bricks and mortar’ vape shop will be unable to – among other things – stock any tanks over 2ml or sell any e-liquid in bottles over 10ml.

Add to that a whole new ‘grey area’ around cross European border sales on the internet – and you don’t have to be a genius to see buyers turning to Chinese online superstores to buy their over 2ml tanks and other vaping gear.

This will undoubtedly impact jobs and could shut down local vaping businesses as vapers turn to the wider internet to buy their devices and e-liquids.

Enforcement Will Be ‘Intelligence Led’

I say ‘wider internet’ because the key ‘grey area’ here is the farcical and unclear laws that will forbid a European based vape store from selling restricted vape products to other EU country’s consumers online.

I’m using the term ‘grey area’ because after speaking to both my local Trading Standards office – which I’ll cover in full later – and the CTSI – Chartered Trading Standards Institute – neither organization would give me a specific answer on internet enforcement.

ctsi

Indeed even when I pushed both organizations on this serious matter – the ‘stock answer’ seems to be vague if a little sinister:

Our enforcement work in this area is presently intelligence led.

This answer was repeated verbatim each time I asked – and yes whilst I understand they’re hardly going to tell us HOW they plan to monitor online EU vaping sales my question was a simple one – ‘will you be monitoring online sales in the UK?’

And given my local Trading Standards office said they were planning to work closely with e-cigarette businesses [more on that later] to help them ‘comply’ with the TPD – the fact they haven’t ‘assisted or consulted’ any online vape shops I’ve spoken to says it all really.

As for assisting local e-cigarette shops I’ll show you later how my local Trading Standards officers did that resulting in what they call a ‘sting operation’ and a court case.

As a former journalist I have banged heads with all levels of Government – Councils and council departments and one thing I always kept at the front of my mind is they work for us.

And therefore it naturally follows they should report to us exactly what they’re doing or planning to do.

Who Are the Vape Police?

Remember the vape police are in effect Trading Standards officers.

And they really do have some pretty far reaching powers.

trading standards vape police

To find out more about what they can and can’t do check the CTSI Statutory Powers document and remember forearmed is forewarned!

The officers are employed by the council with the actual council staff answering to our Local Councillors who are elected!

As you can see from that simple way of putting things – no matter how high powered council employees think they are – they still answer to the elected Councillors – therefore US!

I could go into all the ‘lawful rebellion’ type things we could do and say when dealing with officialdom – particularly when it comes to local councils – but maybe here isn’t the place.

Remember Pounds Ounces and Yards?

I can see similarities with the TPD and the barmy ‘enforcement’ of the EU’s decision to take away the UK’s old imperial measurements – stones – ounces – yards etc – and turn us ‘metric’.

For those of you not old enough to remember here in the UK we didn’t operate in kilograms and metres – we had ounces – pounds and yards.

However when the joined the EU [or common market as it was known] back in 1973 we as a country were ‘obliged’ to switch to metric measurements – there are some ins and outs – but that’s basically it.

Cue businesses across the UK refusing to switch and Trading Standards officers together with the police literally breaking into businesses and arresting the owners – resulting in numerous court cases to fight the enforced changes.

I’m going a little off topic maybe – however it was a fledgling political party – UKIP – that decided to fight for the rights of shopkeepers in particular to use ‘pounds and ounces’ should they wish to.

What I’m trying to say is I wonder if there’s a political party with the balls to stand up for vape shop owners ‘rights’ and allow them to sell any size tank or e-liquid bottle they want?

Answers in comments please!

Vape Prosecutions – What to Expect

OK and sorry for the slight detour but you know what I’m like by now.

So before I show you the three interviews I did let’s look at how my local Trading Standards department are ‘working’ alongside vape businesses in their jurisdiction.

magistrates-court

Note that last word – jurisdiction – from what I was told by the CTSI it is going to be up to individual Trading Standard offices across the country as to how the police the TPD.

In other words some might think it worthy of investing a ton of time and manpower – whilst others might sit around waiting for the ‘anti vape hotline’ red phone to ring.

We [meaning they] just don’t know!

I live in Warwickshire so let’s look at how local Trading Standards officers ‘assisted’ a vape seller in a town about 25 miles away from me.

Here’s the county council’s case:

In March 2016, acting on intelligence, Trading Standards Officers asked a 15 year old child volunteer to attempt to purchase a bottle of ‘Mr Smoke Cherry Apple’ e-liquid containing 1.8% nicotine from a Nuneaton market stall.

OK let’s stop right there.

‘Acting on intelligence.’

I think we can assume that a ‘snooper’ tut tutted their way to making the call that a child was allowed to buy e-liquid.

It was only AFTER this incident and some 5months later that Trading Standards visited the market stallholder and advised her of the law.

Yes of course she should have known – and maybe asked for ID – but it’s hardly the crime of the century.

Are You 25?

What’s interesting here is that Trading Standards officers advised her about the Challenge 25 scheme.

This is yet another ridiculous piece of legislation that advises shopkeepers to literally challenge anyone who buys alcohol if ‘they look under 25’.

challenge 25

Hey correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t the legal age to buy alcohol in the UK 18?

And come to that how can they use one law to advise on another?

And hang on second – when you see that in the follow up ‘sting operation’ you’ll see the ‘child’ used was 16.

Pretty sneaky if you ask me given it was legal for a 16-year-old to buy cigarettes up to 2008 and a little bit of research would show e-liquid is way way less harmful – but I digress.

A couple of weeks after they’d ‘advised’ the seller they were back:

At the end of that month Trading Standards Officers again visited the stall and a 16 year old child volunteer successfully purchased a bottle of ‘V Juice Cloud Chasing Purple Rain’ e-liquid containing 0.6% of nicotine.

Following this second sale to a child, Warwickshire Trading Standards decided to take a prosecution against the trader.

The lady in question was prosecuted and given a 6 month conditional discharge – ordered to pay £200 prosecution costs and a £20 Victim surcharge.

Woah a ‘victim surcharge?’

I’ve covered umpteen court cases and that’s a new one on me – and hang on who’s the victim here?

According to Wikipedia :

In the legal system of England and Wales, the victim surcharge is a penalty applied to people convicted of offences, in addition to a conditional discharge, a fine, a community- or custodial sentence, in order to provide compensation for the victims of crime.

Am I reading that right?

Trading Standards groom a 16-year-old girl into buying e-liquid and the person who sold it to her has to pay her £20 because she’s a victim?

Well that’s a better rate than a paper round.

And I know this is a daft question – but if it is illegal to buy e-liquid aged 16 aren’t Trading Standards complicit in the ‘crime’ by using her in the first place?

I’m no lawyer but I’m pretty sure in America that’s called ‘entrapment’ – maybe we need something similar in the UK.

You do have to feel for the lady in question who told the press on the day in question her assistant hadn’t turned up for work – she herself was feeling ill and given it was such a busy day on the stall she simply had ‘more to do’.

In other words she was running her own business in order to make enough to pay council tax and God knows what else – she was rushed off her feet and was too busy to notice.

I know who the real victim is here and I have no doubt we’ll be seeing many many more of these types of ‘sting operations’ post May 20th.

After the prosecution Warwickshire Trading Standards said:

Whilst e-cigarettes and vaping equipment may benefit adults attempting to quit smoking, these products, which contain the highly addictive drug nicotine, are not designed for use by children.

This prosecution was the result of a wider e-cigarette and vaping enforcement exercise providing advice and guidance to retailers.

I would urge all Warwickshire retailers selling age restricted products to operate Challenge 25 and approach Trading Standards if they require further help or advice.

Given we don’t swear on here very often I’ll leave you to leave a comment as to your thoughts on that statement!

You can read the full article HERE.

Anti Terrorist Laws to be Used Against Vapers?

OK back to the vape police and how they may be using anti-terrorism legislation to enforce the TPD and trust me your local council has probably used the law at some point over the last few years.

Known as the ‘Snoopers Charter’ the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act – or RIPA – gives local authorities unbelievable powers.

ripa

For instance it’s perfectly legal for them to gather evidence via bugging devices – hidden cameras – private detectives and even opening mail – yeah including #vapemail lol!

If you think that won’t apply to vape shops – then think again.

Local councils have loosely used the law to check up on dog-shit – barking dogs – fly tipping – local journalists [Hello!] and even feeding pigeons!

So where does the vape angle come in I hear you say?

OK Wolverhampton council is on record as using the RIPA legislation and all the snooping that entails to ‘check on the sale of dangerous toys’.

In other words that would be Trading Standards proven to be using the RIPA legislation [snoopers charter] to make prosecutions – remember when the ‘term’ council is used in the majority of consumer based investigations they really mean the local Trading Standards department.

Sources:

Look if they’ve done it once they’ll be doing it again so I advise all vape shop owners to check for bugging devices every day and beware of any surveillance cameras suddenly turned towards their premises!

Oh yeah and beware hoards of children wandering in asking for 8ml tanks too.

It doesn’t end there either.

Spying on Facebook Vapers?

Let’s talk about social media and in particular Facebook where A LOT of vape business is done.

A Scottish council – that would be Trading Standards Scotland – was trying to use RIPA to create fake Facebook profiles in order to snoop on ‘targets’ – meaning members of the public.

A spokesman for East Lothian council said:

Although East Lothian Council has never used covert identities for social media as part as an investigation, and is highly unlikely to do so, a policy must be put in place to include all eventualities even if they are not used.

Umm if you break that down what its saying is we ain’t doing it yet but if we need to we shall do.

That’s our pre-crime thought police right there and that’s a slippery slope.

Look, given the mainstream media’s seemingly intense dislike of all thing vape and e-cigarette how long is it going to be before we start getting a flood anti vaping stories forcing Trading Standards to act?

Vaping is well and truly in the cross hairs with the TPD the bullet and social media is a fertile hunting ground.

OK let’s now look at the three interviews I’ve conducted with my local Trading Standards office and the Chartered Trading Standards Institute.

Remember each local authority on a county level will decide what resources to put into policing vaping businesses with no overall organization policing the internet.

I’ll print them in full so there’s no misunderstanding.

Chartered Trading Standards Institute

About: CTSI represents trading standards professionals working in the UK and overseas – in local authorities, business and consumer sectors and central government.

CTSI exists to:

  • promote and protect the success of a modern vibrant economy, and
  • safeguard the health, safety and wellbeing of citizens by enhancing the professionalism of its members.

Q & A With CTSI and TPD

Do you have a policy regarding enforcement of the TPD?

Regulatory activity is undertaken by local Trading Standards Services ( in local councils ), so CTSI does not have a “policy” as such regarding compliance / enforcement activity. CTSI does however seek to advise colleagues regarding proportionate activity .

Have your officers been briefed or trained in the implementation of the TPD?

CTSI does not “have officers” ( see above ), it is a professional membership organisation .

However , Trading Standards officers have received training.

Will you have designated officers monitoring online sales?

This is a matter for local Trading standards services to determine where they allocate resources.

What are the consequences of an individual or company breaking the rules around TPD?

A breach of the regulations may result in a financial penalty or custodial sentence being imposed by a court .

However, taking legal action is seen as a last resort and efforts will first be made to bring a business into compliance.

OK and like I said earlier the CTSI were ‘helpful’ but I’d say cagey and none committal.

Q & A with Warwickshire Trading Standards and TPD Enforcement

They are a hard bunch to track down!

However I was able to get through to them via the county council press office and I’d like to thank Paul for his patience and help.

The first set of questions were basic however the follow up questions got a bit more into the nitty gritty and looked at how important Trading Standards in my area were taking enforcement of the TPD:

Q1: What training has trading standards officers received regarding TPD?

A1: Trading Standards Officers have access to the legislation and guidance necessary to carry out their duties.

Q2: At what cost? Has the Government assisted via extra funding or information?

A2: No additional cost.

Q3: Has Trading Standards liaised with vape shops to explain the new legislation?

A3: Warwickshire Trading Standards has carried out some intelligence led enforcement activities (see below) that included providing guidance to sellers of vaping related products

Q4: Are you planning extensive monitoring for none compliance or relying on reports from the public?

A4: Our enforcement work in this area is presently intelligence led.

Q5: Are you planning to monitor web sites based in the UK for infringements of the legislation?

A5: Our enforcement work in this area is presently intelligence led.

Q6: What extra costs will policing the TPD mean for this area?

Q6: Work is prioritized based upon existing resources.

Q8: What are the stages for prosecution of none compliance of the TPD and the penalties?

A7: Warwickshire Trading Standards recently took two successful prosecutions against traders for selling vaping e-liquid products to children:

 

These involved carrying out a test purchase by a young volunteer and follow-up warnings and guidance as appropriate and further test purchases.

Please refer to our enforcement policy for further guidance:

How Trading Standards Will Prioritize TPD Enforcement

OK all very clear and apparently enforcing the TPD isn’t putting any extra strain on the already hard-pressed and apparently cash-strapped department.

However according to the the Warwickshire Police Commissioner’s website that’s a different story:

Consumer protection issues are very fast moving, with new areas of loss or harm to consumers sometimes emerging overnight.

In order to make the best use of limited resources, trading standards services have to wait for intelligence to build on a particular issue in their local area before they can take action.

It is essential that consumers report their concerns to the Citizens Advice Consumer Service so that crucial intelligence can reach trading standards.

With staff numbers falling and budgets continuing to shrink, trading standards officers are prioritizing those issues where there is greatest evidence of harm.

Source

That last sentence is extremely interesting:

“With staff numbers falling and budgets continuing to shrink, trading standards officers are prioritizing those issues where there is greatest evidence of harm.”

Just wondering here if the TPD ‘training’ has looked at what – if any – evidence of harm there may be in 4 ml tanks or 100ml bottles of e-liquid?

Or come to that vaping in general – please leave your answers in the comments below.

Again we’re getting that phrase ‘intelligence led’.

Either they plan to bug local vape shops – send in the undercover kid squad [who will be paid by the ‘criminal’ who sold them some e-liquid via the court’s quite disgraceful ‘Victim Surcharge’] – or wait for a nosey parker do-gooder to ring the vape police hotline to report that a 10ml bottle of e-liquid actually had 10.5mls in it.

This is vaping for goodness sake!

Vaping saves lives!

Yet it is now carrying the possibility of it becoming a criminal offence and is firmly in the sights of the court system and no doubt will become a cash cow of outrageous fines and even imprisonment – a shocking state of affairs.

OK I’m off my soapbox for a moment.

Onto the follow up interview with Warwickshire Trading Standards.

Part Two of the Q & A with Warwickshire Trading Standards and TPD Enforcement

Can members of the public be prosecuted if they purchase none TPD compliant vaping products over the internet?

No, as long as the person is not attempting to import/purchase anything that is illegal (for example illegal drugs).

The legalisation you mention, The Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016 is largely directed at persons acting in the course of trade or business.

Do you have an exact penalty tariff?

The Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016 Penalties

A person guilty of an offence under these Regulations is liable —

(a) on summary conviction—

(i) in England and Wales to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months, or a fine or both, or

(ii) in Scotland, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding twelve months, or a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale, or both;

(iii) in Northern Ireland, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months, or a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale, or both; or

(b) on conviction on indictment to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years, or a fine, or both.

How ‘vigorously’ do Warwickshire Trading Standards plan to police this legislation?

We believe that prevention is better than cure and that our role involves actively working with business to advise on and assist with compliance.

We will nevertheless take firm action against negligent, persistent or deliberate non-compliance.

We use an intelligence-led approach to target our limited resources to the areas that most require our attention.

Enforcement actions are prioritized in accordance with the criteria listed in our enforcement policy.

Has Trading Standards advised vape shops and websites on the new legislation?

I refer you to my previous email.

As to ‘intelligence’ gathering this I assume will mean sample buys and reports from the public?

We gather intelligence from a wide range of sources to assist us to direct our enforcement work. We may test purchase products if it was felt necessary.

There you have it.

It’s OK for consumers to purchase none TPD compliant products over the internet from EU based online stores.

However the store will be running the risk of prosecution if any of the ‘intelligence led’ systems in local Trading Standard department’s flag up those sales.

I wanted to go into the so what if the site is hosted in the US and so is the stock type scenario but given to get this info took ‘a while’ I didn’t bother as I’m sure they’d find a way to prosecute that!

One thing I did notice was in the UK you could get 3 months in jail for selling restricted vape products however in Scotland that rises to 12 months – a little unfair but hey so is the TPD as a whole.

Summing Up

After looking at this issue for quite some time things are a little clearer as to how the TPD legislation is going to be policed.

It boils down to the ‘luck of the draw’ if I’m brutally honest.

In other words it will be down to the Trading Standards departments policy and of course resources in your local area as to how much action will be taken.

Given the swathe of cuts local governments has faced this past few years and given as we’ve seen they are underfunded and understaffed – they seem to be on the side of reactive rather than proactive.

They want US to report to THEM any infringement of the TPD – it’s that simple.

They say they plan to liaise with local bricks and mortar vape businesses but as we’ve seen they’re quick to prosecute.

However the internet remains more than a bit of a grey area to say the least.

As I said in an earlier piece the losers here will be both the millions of EU vapers and the vast numbers of EU based online vaping stores.

Let’s face it, the vaping industry is Chinese led from manufacturing to sales on huge bargain sites such as Heaven’s Gifts and Gear Best.

It is those companies that will benefit as more and more EU based vape shops lose sales due to the TPD and in turn face bankruptcy and catastrophic job losses.

How Can Vapers Fight Back?

So what can we do?

Individually we can’t do much – however we can join forces and groups such as Vapers in Power and the New Nicotine Alliance are a first step to banding together with a common goal – good riddance to the TPD.

NNA_team

Remember what my local office said:

…trading standards officers are prioritizing those issues where there is greatest evidence of harm.

The weight of scientific evidence shows that vaping is NOT an issue where there is the greatest evidence of harm – far from it.

Of course in an ideal world the Brexit negotiations would include removal of the TPD from our statutes – and don’t get me started on the argument its’ not important enough.

In the UK alone we’re looking at hundreds of thousands of deaths through tobacco related illnesses over the next few decades – let alone the cost to the NHS.

It IS an important issue and it’s about time our political parties realized that and did something about it – which incidentally is a topic I’m planning to cover very soon.

OK I’ve gone on a little too long as per usual – but I hope it’s shown you as a consumer or business owner what’s at stake as May 20th draws closer.

Back on my soapbox for a second and wouldn’t it be great if as one all the vape shops online and on the streets of the UK stuck two fingers up to the TPD and sold what the hell they liked?!

I’m sure the 3million or so vapers in the UK would be happy enough to chip in a few quid to pay their fines – get me the old political activist!

Vape On!

Neil Humber
I began vaping in 2012 and found it easy to give up a 40 per day roll-up habit! DTL: Lost Vape DNA75C BF - Dead Rabbit SQ - MTL: JacVapour Sandstorm DNA 75 + Augvape Merlin Nano RTA...Daily set-up Lost Vape DNA 250c and Geekvape Zeus X I'm a former journalist and now a writer and author.. I'm an Army veteran - adore dogs and never happier than with a good book on a beach.

12 COMMENTS

  1. 5 months on and I can still buy 3-4-5-6ml tanks off ebay and amazon from UK sellers and china (fasttech etc.) will send me anything I want, all the TPD has done is hurt high-street vape shops and UK based businesses.

    • I totally agree mate – one of the independent vape shops in my town closed a couple of weeks ago as customer were buying online – 6 jobs gone – crazy 🙁

  2. Thanks for the research and the read.

    Sad that this policing has turned into a postcode lottery, and with an inconsistent approach nationally.

    Given that we knew that TS were already overloaded and not receiving any further funding we might reasonably expect the laws to be broken until reported. Likely that it will be competition and not Joe Public that will do the whistleblowing.

    Any crime has to have a victim afterall. Your point about entrapment being victimless is well made, however, TS officers with time on their hands will undoubtedly obtain proof to back up a complaint in this way.

    Not sure why you decided to flog the Imperial weights and measures dead horse, that adds nothing but a distraction here.

  3. The big question should be,why is the tpd instituted when vaping has nothing to do with tobacco.It also is not a pharmaceutical product.Vaping is actually a lifestyle choice and should be treated as such.

  4. Neil, poor research I have to say. First up, “challenge 25” is NOT legislation, it is a recommendation as part of a due diligence system but is not legally binding.

    Secondly, why, because it was legal to buy tobacco as a 16 year old in 2008 does it make it unfair to test shops using a 16 year old in 2017, nine years later? isn’t that long enough for staff to get up to speed with legislative changes?

    Shops selling alcohol seem to manage ok. Test purchase failure rates around alcohol are at an all time low.

    Are you aware that there is a strict Code of Practice that all TS must follow when using underage test purchasers, whether for alcohol, tobacco, fireworks, solvents, knives etc?

    Also, your understanding of RIPA is rather poor too. It is NOT, despite what the Daily Mail says, anti-terror legislation.

    It gives no additional powers to local TS and simply ensures that existing powers under, for example, the Consumer Protection Act of 1987 (UK legislation, not EU I might add) are not misused.

    Surveillance, or “snooping” as you put it can only be carried out when justified through intelligence of criminality, that the surveillance will be appropriate and not excessive, and has been approved by a magistrate and is strictly controlled to avoid collateral intrusion but hey, don’t let that fact get in the way of your inherent anti-regulation bias. it is used sparingly by local authorities as there are other means available to bring businesses into compliance.

    The TPD will be enforced in exactly the same way as all consumer protection legislation including the old tobacco legislation i.e. with an initial light touch advice approach followed but a gradual ramping up of sanctions based on a businesses lack of compliance or willingness to do so.

    I am sure you will agree that nicotine in liquid form, as a poison, should not end up in the hands of children who may, accidentally or otherwise, misuse it and harm themselves, or are you suggesting that shops should sell e-liquids to anyone they wish?

    You wouldn’t approve of whisky to a fifteen year old or a knife to a twelve year old would you?

    I understand this is an “opinion” piece and you’ve certainly tried to research it to some degree but i’m afraid your factually inaccuracies about the law and lack of any clear understanding of how TS function and enforce the law, makes this article, at best, ill-informed hyperbole.

    • Thank you for your extremely eloquent comment/critique and you are quite right Challenge 25 is not a law – I think I was in full flow and finding the correct word to describe what is for me a ridiculous ‘recommendation’ given 18 is the legal age and is yet another ‘nannying’ intrusion by Government.

      I could go into the crazy UK age laws – age of consent 16 – marriage at 16 etc but you can’t buy cigarettes or alcohol and now e-cigarettes it’s ridiculous and my point was to show how on a whim Governments can and do move the goalposts. This month 18 to buy e-cigs next year 21 or hey if you don’t look 25 I need ID – stinks of ‘Papers Please’ from the dark past – so much for freedom to choose or indeed ‘education not legislation’. In other words give people the facts and let them decide.

      Kids have always and will always try out smoking and drinking and Trading Standards have possibly played a very small part in slowing the numbers down but they are not about prevention they are mainly there for enforcement – a kind of consumer police if you like.

      With the education I have now about smoking for instance I would far rather a 16-year-old had access to a far less harmful e-cigarette – simple as that.
      As to sending ‘undercover kids’ into shops I stand by my opinion that is nothing more than entrapment and makes for great media – just watch when the first vape shop raid happens 😉

      Onto RIPA and councils have most definitely abused those powers with or without a ‘soft’ magistrate’s blessing and I’m sure they will abuse them again. Now whether that will happen regarding the TPD may take a quantum leap to get there but in my opinion if they want to they will. All they’ll need to do is tell a magistrate the poor children are buying flavoured e-liquids and what stiff backed magistrate wouldn’t give them what ever warrant they wanted? And no I don’t read the Daily Mail or any mainstream media come to that – as a former journalist I get more info from the so called ‘alternative media’ both the alt right and indeed the alt left if such a thing exists.

      Snooping is a catch-all albeit lazy word used in journalism to describe all aspects of intelligence gathering and given the TS used the words ‘intelligence led’ constantly in my interviews I used snooping to cover surveillance – anonymous reports etc.

      The TPD has brought more nicotine into people’s lives than before it’s as simple as that particularly with the growth of DIY e-liquids and now far more 10ml bottles which leads to far more chances of spillage etc. However pre-TPD I can’t think of any cases [maybe one or two I reported last year if memory serves] where children have drank e-liquids containing nicotine.

      This might shock you but I have no issue at all with a 12-year-old buying a knife – its not the knife that kills stabs or maims but the person using it and we go back to education not legislation again. Knives have been used as a weapon for centuries. The current rise is in my opinion only down to falling in standards of our society – break up of families – poor education – the rise of drugs and drug use – gang culture because there’s nothing else. When I left the army after a few years I became a youth worker on a tough estate and worked with kids that nowadays would be called hoodies or gangs and whilst we didn’t turn them into little angels we did have an impact on their lives – we lost the youth service 25 years ago in yet another round of Government cuts and the end result is what you see now – knife crime. Kids who know no better – kids without guidance. And yeah it’s the same with kids buying alcohol – kids will drink alcohol however educate them and they might think twice – make it ‘illegal’ and it takes on that forbidden lure.

      Yes this is an opinion piece and whilst I only covered a couple of Trading Standards pieces as a journalist – so certainly no expert on such matters – my job here was to interpret how the TPD would/may be enforced in the UK because no-one knew.

      My lack of faith in the TS ‘policing’ this legislation fairly seems to stand up if you take a look at my piece in this weeks News – there two Trading Standards officers state categorically neither they or their colleagues have received ANY training regarding the TPD – how to enforce it or otherwise.

      Now either they are lying or my local office and indeed the CTSI lied to me in my interviews.

      If the TS bosses are lying to the public then how can we believe and indeed trust them when it comes to enforcing the TPD?

      And given there’s no countrywide strategy [leaving it up to individual offices] then it will become a post code lottery as to who gets prosecuted and who doesn’t – which makes yet another mockery of what for me is a ridiculous piece of EU legislation.

      Thanks again and I guess I should change the H in Neil H to Hyperbole lol

      Cheers!

  5. Hi Neil,

    Once again a big thank you from myself for your article, I own a vape business and this EU stuff is driving us all mad, for example we have gone from supplying a customer 5 x 30ml bottles to 15 x 10ml bottles of nicotine + 15 x 15ml bottles (containing 2.5ml of flavour to add the nicotine to) some 30 bottles to replace the 5 we would have supplied, we have to do this so we are able to supply our customers with the 300 odd flavours they have access to now. For us to register all our flavours (and we bring out new ones sometimes every day) we would have to stump up nearly £800,000 in fees to register all our existing lines, this would have generated something like 14,000 stock codes, simply bonkers.

    What is really annoying, (and I think in your last reply you have touched on this) is the amount of plastics it will generate, and for no reason, as we know nobody has died from vaping in the 12 odd years it has been around, yet since the MEP’s voted for the TPD just over 2 years ago some 2.2million EU residents have died from smoking, nobody bats and eyelid about that. The Green Party MEP’s ALL voted for the TPD (5 of them) and are now partly responsible for the plastic mountain myself as a company is creating. My daughter and I have started to support a charity 4Ocean to remove plastic from the seas, yet when I see what we are now doing it just makes you think, “why do I bother”? We too are going to start collecting these little 10ml bottles in our shop and from other shops we supply and will take them down to Brighton and dump them on the steps of the Green Party asking if they can dispose of them as they were partly responsible for this mess.

    I get very passionate about this and have tried to contact newspapers etc but they simply just don’t care, maybe I should start to do the same, however I am not sure I would be able to as I won’t let this go, it has to be fought and sorted.

    If you have not already done so please watch “A Billion Lives” we were at the premier at Southampton and it is now out on iTunes etc or for those who can’t afford to pay try 123moviesfree (I really support Aaron who made the film but it needs to be watched one way or another)

    I think the next few months are going to be interesting, and I think the backlash from Saturdays introduction of the TPD will suddenly make the public aware at last, I know all the petitions failed miserably, I even went to the houses of commons for a meeting about this, but maybe, just maybe the public tide will turn now they can’t get their favourite juice in the size they want, in the tank they so rightfully deserve to use to keep off the stinkies

    David McClure

    • Thanks a lot and I feel your pain on the cost to businesses like yours the TPD has brought in – I spoke to a lot of folks at VapeFest last year and they were worried about going out of business 🙁 And it’s fantastic what you’re doing with the 40 Ocean charity – that’s something close to my heart being a long time member of Surfers Against Sewage [lapsed] I spent my summers in Cornwall as a boy 🙂 Sadly nowadays I look like the Michelin Man in a wet-suit 🙂
      Good luck with your business and yes I agree let’s hope at least a few politicians see the significance of their actions though I won’t be holding my breath – do let me know if you guys deliver those bottles – and if you are going to collect them – would make a nice piece 😉
      Cheers!

  6. Good effort on the extensive research, however your conclusions have an emotive & sensationalist edge.. let’s all go back to pounds shillings & pence .. let’s have pounds & ounces back!!.. Duh! .. was that some anti European retoric? I was an adult when we used those crazy imperial systems .. in this respect, I doubt you you know what your talking about.. After that it’s hard to trust or take this article seriously!! .. The best advice here.. is to remember that Trading Standards are locally funded & managed .. they are accountable to our local MP’s, they are our first port of call for complaint.. Trading Standards (local) interpretation of the directive, has to tested in local courts, luckily thier budgets are limited. We’ve had 40 years of these directives.. after an initial flurry of activity, it’ll settle down in no time! It was bad, hasty legislation, it’s a minefield of technicalities.. When you look at at how vaping has metamorphosed in the past few years.. TPD has nothing a little commercial ingenuity can’t surmount. Let’s not do the straight banana thing again!

    • Hi – I could have written a bland news piece however my brief was to make it ‘opinion based’ and given I was a reporter for many years [nothing but the facts lol] I enjoy that style of writing.
      Hard to believe from my photo I know but I’m 55 and was brought up in a butchers shop where pounds and ounces shillings and pence were all around me – I can still remember the day decimalization came in – I was 10 – however losing the imperial measurement system here in the UK passed my by and still leaves me scratching my head [despite using it in the Army lol].
      And well spotted on my anti EU stance – I took a long hard look at what that pretty much un-elected body has done and become over the past few years and concluded it was undemocratic and verging on a dictatorship 😉 Nope I’m not right wing far from it – but I don’t like the idea of Europe [and then who next] becoming one big happy state when it is far from that. I miss the diversity we used to find in the different countries – I’m all for the common market per se however it has become much more than that and this old bloke dislikes and distrusts its plutocratic approach to everything it touches 🙂
      Cheers!

  7. What a great read u have clearly been working very hard to bring us info not many have said. Thank u for the time.

    Not once has any one mentioned the now what seems 3x10ml im a box with a list as long as your arm info sheet.

    How is going from a 30ml bottle to this good for the environment. more plastic bottles more cardboard. More trees cut down to make more waste. Once again amazong indepth read and thank u.

    • Thanks mate much appreciated – and I am one of your subscribers 😉 As to the environmental issue I used to be a bit of a radical and I reckon if I had the time and was a little younger I’d organize a huge collection of plastic 10ml bottles and have them delivered en masse to the EU building to ‘prove a point’ 🙂 Cheers!

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