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Germany to prohibit menthol, many other e-liquid flavours

Written by || 21 January, 2016 || Regulatory news analysis |

green and red lights - Magic Madzik 900x540Germany is to ban menthol e-liquid as well as many other flavours when it transposes the EU’s Tobacco Products Directive (TPD).

A lengthy, although still only provisional, list of restricted ingredients includes additives that facilitate the inhalation or uptake of nicotine, such as the minty-tasting flavouring which has long been the subject of controversy in regulation of tobacco cigarettes.

The full list is given in ECigIntelligence’s new in-depth report on German e-cigarette regulation and the country’s plans for implementing the TPD in its domestic law.

Germany’s list of prohibited ingredients – which is not a complete ban on all flavours – also includes vitamins or other additives that might give consumers the impression an e-cigarette has health benefits, as well as stimulants such as caffeine and taurine.

Menthol has long been a target of tobacco control because of evidence suggesting that menthol smokers are more dependent on nicotine and find it harder to quit, as well as concerns that it is more enticing to potential new smokers than the taste of tobacco.

As a result, the TPD requires a ban on menthol in combustibles from 2022.

An attempt by the Polish government to challenge that edict in the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) was rejected by an advocate general of the EU in the same opinion that dismissed e-liquid maker Totally Wicked’s case against the TPD, although the court itself is not obliged to follow that opinion.

However, the TPD leaves decisions on flavourings in e-cigarettes up to individual member states, an area of discretion in which Germany is now acting.

In the U.S., meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is considering its own ban on menthol in tobacco cigarettes – one which is exceptionally controversial given the disproportionately high usage of menthol products among African American smokers.

Scientific understanding of menthol’s precise effects is incomplete, although it appears to alter the way nicotine is metabolised by the body.

The ECigIntelligence report on German e-cigarette regulation covers all aspects of the TPD implementation as well as other issues such as age restrictions and public usage, and also outlines the regulatory situation in key individual German states.

What This Means: As the only non-tobacco flavouring of any importance in the combustibles market, and one which does seem to play a part in addiction although the exact mechanisms are not understood, menthol is an inevitable target for tobacco control.

It is therefore going to be on the list for any EU member state minded to restrict e-cigarette flavours, even if it does not have quite the notoriety of the allegedly youth-targeted fruit and candy options.

– Barnaby Page ECigIntelligence staff

Photo: Magic Madzik