EU tobacco directive faces lawsuit

The EU's Tobacco Products Directive leaves national authorities to decide whether refillable e-cigarettes should be considered tobacco products or medicine. [Shutterstock]

The UK’s leading electronic cigarette manufacturer, Totally Wicked, has launched a legal challenge to the EU’s Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) on the grounds that Article 20 of the Directive breaches EU law.

Article 20 within the TPD defines the regulations for e-cigarettes, which will come into force in 2016.

If the TPD is going to be implemented as it currently stands, the e-cigarettes market will be radically altered, with many current e-cigarette devices being removed from the market. Totally Wicked said in a statement that the directive will be a disproportionate impediment to the free movement of goods and the free provision of services in the EU, placing electronic cigarettes at an unjustified competitive disadvantage to tobacco products.

Having considered Totally Wicked's claim and supporting evidence, the UK's Secretary of State for Health said it would be appropriate for the issues raised by Totally Wicked to be referred to the European Court of Justice for a ruling.

A hearing will now take place in London on the 6th of October 2014, where an Administrative Court judge will determine whether a reference should be made and if so, the terms of the questions being referred. If the matter is referred to the Court of Justice, it is expected a hearing to take place in 2015, which will determine whether Article 20 breaches EU law.

>> Read: Poland to challenge EU ban on menthol cigarettes

In late July, Poland also appealed to Europe's top court over the EU ban on flavoured tobacco products, saying it will be unfairly affected as one of the region's biggest consumers and producers of menthol cigarettes.

  • 2020: EU-wide ban on menthol-flavoured cigarettes comes into force under the revised Tobacco Directive
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Mike Parr's picture

This has some relevance to the TTIP idiocy currently wending its way through Bruxelles. Notice that a company that is unhappy with some aspect of Euro legislation is able to use existing Euro legal channels to challenge the legislation. This is as it should be. And raises the question - why TTIP? given that as can be seen, there are well established and functioning systems within the EU both at EU-level and at member state level.

Perhaps the EC and the TTIP supporters within it would care to respond on how & why, exactly, TTIP, given the above, is needed.