October 1st 2015 is the day that will change the vaping world forever. Or maybe it won’t. We won’t actually find out for sure until early 2016. The challenge to article 20 of the EU TPD (Tobacco Products Directive) has had its first day in court. But before we get into that, some other fun things happened a few days earlier.
Let’s start with an opinion article on The Times website written by Matt Ridley. Also known as Viscount Ridley, he has been writing for the paper for over 5 years, mostly on science, economics and the environment.
He has seen the light with ecigs and has asked many questions in the House of Lords on behalf of vapers. In the article, he continues that trend by writing about the forthcoming article 20 case in the ECJ (European Court of Justice). He believes the case against article 20 is very strong and his opinion is:
For a start, it is bizarre to include vaping devices in a ‘tobacco products’ directive at all. It’s like regulating coffee in a hard-drugs law.
Gobsmackingly, the directive specifically outlaws the very vaping devices that are most useful to heavy smokers trying to quit
I think it’s fairly easy to see which side of the fence he comes down on. The full article is a little long but really is worth a read.
September 29th saw the big hand over of the article 20 legal challenge petition to the Department of Health (DoH). Organised by the same people who are taking the case to court, the signature collection site has been open for a few months so vapers and their friends and family could also have a chance to show their support to the cause.
Signatures came in thick and fast at the start and numbers reached more than 10,000 after two weeks but after this point the incoming signatures lessened. Despite this, the petition seems to have closed with a furious rush to sign because over 70,000 of you wonderful vapers signed it before the deadline.
Clive Bates, who has supported the ecig cause since the start of this journey over 2 years ago, was in attendance and gave a small speech. He then helped carry the two large boxes of signatures into the DoH to applause and cheers from the vaping crowd who went along to support the cause in person.
Then it was October 1st and time for the TPD court case main event and at 2:30pm the article 20 challenge came before the 5 ECJ judges and Advocate General (person who looks at both sides’ evidence and makes a suggestion to the judges).
The legal team had prepared all the briefs beforehand and were given 20 minutes to orally outline the documents and case. The opposing side, which included the EU Parliament, Council and Commission and also any opposing member states (the rumour is that Spain, France and UK were the opposing states) had 15 minutes each to put their side of the case. It now goes on to the Advocate General who makes a recommendation and once the report is received from the Advocate General the judges deliberate and give their final verdict, which is expected early 2016.
Once their verdict is in, the case will either be null and void or moved on to a full hearing which will have 3 judges. It’s a long way from over, but there may be some feeling regarding which way the judges will go when the Advocate General report is available just before Christmas. For the vapers, it’s now back to the waiting game.