In previous posts, there have been several political issues related to vaping. Today we are again dealing with politics; more precisely, it is about a new EU directive that could cause quite a bit of trouble from September next year.
What is the EU about?
Strictly speaking, the EU directive we are dealing with today is not that new. On November 14, 2018, the European Parliament published Directive 2018/1808. The subject of the directive is adjustments to the regulations for providing audiovisual media services – i.e., videos on platforms such as YouTube, Facebook and Instagram. The adjustments are intended to take up changed market conditions and adjust the legal situation accordingly.
But what exactly does that mean?
The EU’s main concern with the new directive is to regulate so-called influencer marketing and private videos. However, it is not only about holding companies and users responsible for the uploaded content but also for the platforms on which the videos can be seen.
The new directive also explicitly addresses e-cigarettes – and the changes to the directives have anything but minor effects on manufacturers and consumers.
What will change for vapers with the new directive?
The new directive only introduces three small changes to the legal situation surrounding vaping. However, these small additions could have serious repercussions. We will go into the changes chronologically, as they can also be found in the guideline.
Article 9: Advertising For Cigarettes and Tobacco products
With Article 9 of the Directive, the EU prohibits all types of advertisements for e-cigarettes, refill containers, cigarettes, and other tobacco products. We think the latter is good, the former not so much. We only recently reported on Great Britain, where the e-cigarette is even being promoted as a replacement for conventional tobacco cigarettes. This change is nothing new because such a ban on advertising has been in place since 2016. However, the directive now also makes the operators of the platforms on which the advertising is published liable.
Article 10: Sponsorship
Article 10 does not bring any genuine innovations. According to the change, videos and shows can no longer be sponsored by cigarette & e-cig manufacturers and retailers. In the EU, this is already prohibited by the TPD.
Article 11: Product Placement
The changes to Article 11 are aimed explicitly at product placement in videos and broadcasts. Under the policy, the placement of tobacco products and e-cigarettes will no longer be permitted. Previously, free product placement was permitted.
What are the implications of the new policy?
As mentioned at the beginning, the new EU directive is primarily aimed at limiting so-called influencer marketing. Because while conventional advertisements for e-cigarettes and liquids have been banned for several years, reviews on YouTube, for example, were still permitted and were used intensively by the manufacturers as an advertising opportunity. Article 11, in particular, should make this almost impossible in the future – at least if the people who publish the videos earn money with the content in some way or if they are provided with the devices presented by the manufacturers.
Even if the EU aims to protect consumers with the directive, there are also disadvantages. After all, how are you supposed to find out about a vape pod kit before buying it if reviews of the devices are forbidden?
However, the main focus of the new policy is to penalize the platforms on which the videos are published. For example, YouTube might activate so-called geoblocking for videos. This would prevent you from watching videos from American YouTubers in the EU.
Wait for the national regulation
The exact effects cannot be predicted because the new EU directive still must be implemented in individual countries. The EU has given the individual countries until September 19, 2020, to do this. However, it is not to be expected that the laws based on the directive will leave loopholes open.
If you want to read the new guidelines for yourself, click here.