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Tobacco Regulations 2016 - The final word

There have been so many scare stories lately, and so few actual facts about so called "bans" on snuff, that I've been forced to spend a few hours researching the matter.

All I can find is a fairly straightforward piece of legislation called "The Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016", which implements EU Directive 2014/40/EU.

The UK legislation has been around for over six months, and the EU Directive for over two years, so why there should be a panic now, I can only conclude that greedy snuff manufacturers have lied to us all, and tried to cause panic buying in the same way that Unilever has threatened to hike up the price of Marmite etc. to boost sales, blaming exchange rates and Brexit, when in actual fact Marmite is made in the UK and article 50 hasn't even been triggered yet, so there's no reason whatsoever for the pound to be at a 168 year low, especially since we've only been part of Europe for about 40 years...

I'm so irritated that the likes of snuffsnore.co.uk etc. seem to have been behind this scare, along with cheating people out of their loyalty points, that I'm going to go through the whole legislation piece by piece, converting the parts relating to snuff from legalese to plain English - Don't worry, there's only ten parts and most doesn't even apply to snuff.

For those that want a TLDR;

- There are no restrictions whatsoever on pack sizes
- Almost nothing stops you calling your snuff whatever you want to
- There is very little testing involved for snuff manufacturers
- This is basically an information gathering exercise that would at worst take a couple of hours work per product
- Much of this is just consolidating multiple pieces of existing law together

Part 1 is all definitions for the rest of the document, telling you how to interpret certain phrases etc.

Part 2 is all about health warnings, it looks like snuff containers will need to have an indelible warning in the centre of the front and back of the container, covering 30% of each space, in black Helvetica font on a white background with a 1mm black border, for snuff this can be a non-removable label.

Part 3 says you can't sell snuff with vitamins in it, nor stimulants (caffeine, guarana, etc.), nor products that aide nicotine uptake, nor additives that are harmful or increase the harmfulness of tobacco. Plus you can't claim any health benefits for snuff. Oral use tobacco is banned.

Part 4 says that the Secretary of State may ask for studies into the harmfulness of products being sold in future, and needs to be notified when a tobacco product is withdrawn from sale. A list of snuff ingredients needs to be made and sorted by weight, the reason for use needs to be included, as well as whether that material has a safety data sheet (if it doesn't REACh regulations have already made that ingredient illegal to manufacture or import), it's hazard class needs to be included too, but you'd find that on the SDS anyway. Any other health related data available needs to be included.

Here's where I think the confusion comes in, "tar" and nicotine levels need to be measured. As far as I can see here, this information may already exist, since there seems to be plenty of information on this for various brands of cigarettes, but assuming it doesn't (and assuming that some of the ingredients in snuff aren't extra "tar" or nicotine), you'd get quotes from a few universities for all the different tobacco varieties you're using, analyse say 1g of each type, then you can simply say this tin contains 10 times as much or 25 times as much or whatever. I'd expect each test would likely cost a few hundred pounds, but once it's done, it's done (assuming the information isn't already available freely). Plus nothing in the legislation says that manufacturers can't get together and share the expense of the tests if they're using the same varieties of tobacco. Having never bought raw tobacco myself, it might even turn out that the information is available from the supplier, or they know someone that's had the tobacco tested already.

Various sales volume data and market research information needs to be reported, and all the above needs to be sent electronically, otherwise you can't sell the product.

I'd guess that part 4 might cause problems for snuffs manufactured outside Europe, where information about the ingredients isn't readily available.

Comments

  • Part 5 relates to smoked herbal products

    Part 6 relates to Electronic cigarettes

    Part 7 relates to advertising Electronic cigarettes

    Part 8 talks about selling to consumers, and makes retailers register their name, address etc. as a tobacco seller, as well as confirm that they have a check in place to make sure they aren't selling tobacco to kids.

    Part 9 relates to punishments for if you don't follow the rules above

    Part 10 relates to legislation cancelled by this legislation, and various implementation dates, as well as requiring the Secretary of State to review the information gained and report on it.


    In summary, I'm not seeing any especially tricky obstacles here that should result in customers being disadvantaged, certainly no reasons to stop selling 25g or even larger tins, or to call smoked salmon snuff something different - apart from manufacturers wanting to cease producing some lines and then blame someone else apart from themselves.

    Certainly, I imagine that this as a bit of an administrative pain for small manufacturers, but then so is collecting PAYE or submitting reports to companies house; but at least here, once you've catalogued all your ingredients and had a bit of tobacco analysed, it looks like someone just sits down and gets on with arranging it in the format that the government wants.

    Manufacturers, you've had at least six months notice that this was coming, whereas we end users only found out a few days ago, and I think it's just not cool to mislead us and cause panics like that.

  • 50ft_trad50ft_trad Member
    edited November 2016 PM
    I'm not quite sure who you're getting frustrated with here, and you're missing one of the biggest obstacles - the cost.

    Let's take Wilsons as an example, dropping from 96 varieties to 26 varieties. If they kept the full range, and offered them all in 5g/10g/25g/225g/450g containers, that's nearly 500 separate registrations they need to make - and nearly 500 registration fees at 135 GBP plus 500 x 65 GBP annual fee just to sell in the UK.

    96,000 GBP in year one!

    Plus, that's just UK registration. It sounds like they would need to repeat this for every EU country they wanted to sell in. Dropping the range to 26 in let's say two container sizes, means 52 registrations - or one tenth of the cost.

    How is this Snuffstore's fault?

    Why should manufacturers disclose their market strategies for accomodating this horrendous legislation earlier than they need to? They are a business and want to balance cost with market position.

    I understand it is frustrating for everyone. I am not unaffected as a snuff user myself. This is not the fault of the manufacturers or distributers though. If you want to rant and vent and kick some arse, then do us all a favour and direct your frustration at those who are imposing the legislation. It is only there that meaningful change can be made. It is only then that the makers and distributers can be viable in maintaining the full range of products and container sizes, and we can all breathe a sigh of relief.

    Good luck on your quest!
  • RoderickRoderick Member
    edited November 2016 PM
    Duerendal, If only it were true. Please do some more research or at least read the links we have on snuffhouse this one at least takes you to the people who are implementing it. www.gov.uk/phe I only heard about it a month ago and have been fighting ever since. I was originally told it wouldn't affect snuff. Now it does and I'm hopping mad. I am having to move out of my beloved country just to stay in business. The only up side is the EU have made such a mess of this that our Govt. is giving us extra time to sort it out. 

    I wish I was that swine you describe, but I'm not. I am a man of great principle. This is why I am fighting this and will probably end up in court. At least if I was that swine I'd have a home in my own country that now I'm forced to leave. The swines you are talking about are the EU. As I've said countless times this only affects the EU and we could just drop all sales to Europe and carry on selling to the rest of the world but, this is so wrong that I am willing to stay and keep fighting until I am forced on to the plane out of Britain.


     

    I

  • JakartaBoyJakartaBoy Member
    edited November 2016 PM
    It seems a bit unlikely that an organized cartel of snuff makers is artificially manufacturing a crisis to scare consumers into buying as much as they can now, with one or two of them even ceasing to do business to sustain the pretence. Sitting around in a hacienda, talking about "this thing of ours" or "a friend of ours from Chicago," perhaps. Maybe it would make a good plot for a novel.
  • https://consultations.dh.gov.uk/tobacco/regulatory-fees-for-tobacco-products-2 This is the link for the fees consultation. It's not yet a done deal and the more we complain the better we stand to get this stupid ruling changed.
  • edited November 2016 PM
    The fees table is located on page 9 of the pdf.

    If anyone wants to help make our voice heard take the survey in the
    address Roderick posted just above before it ends today at 23:59:00!
    There's still time... Fight for snuff!
  • Thank you all for giving me more information, I'd only managed to find the EU directive and the consequent UK legislation.

    All I'd previously heard was something along the lines of all packages of snuff >10g are being made illegal, which seemed completely illogical to me, and prompted my further investigation, especially since I'd been involved with a similar exercise for the importing of aircraft sealants a few years back.

    In that instance, there were no additional charges for registering... But even so, the charges here that seem to be at the root of the problem are being introduced by the UK government, not by Europe.

    I can clear up a little bit of confusion here, in that EU trade rules mean that any product registered under a EU directive in one state would then be legal to sell in any other EU state without further registration, unless that product is specifically prohibited by the state. So there would be no multiple registrations necessary, unless the UK doesn't leave the EU with some sort of agreement on that issue, else come Brexit, two separate registrations would then be needed.

    Looking at the charges, I can see how this would unfortunately result in manufacturers dropping varieties that only sell in very low volumes, but I see nothing that says you pay two fees if you sell say a 5g size as well as a 10g size.

    It's pretty obvious that in that instance, the 10g has twice the quantity of TNCO that the 5g size has, and the charges document talks about products, not pack sizes.

    I guess the easy way to find out 100% would be to ask one of the big cigarette manufacturers whether they have to pay two fees for selling a carton of 10 cigarettes as well as a carton of 20 cigarettes of the same brand.

    Either way, I can't help feeling that this minor change in regulations has been used as an excuse to cause panic buying of snuff.
  • Well, I don't believe in any kind of panicmongering on purpose from anyone. There has to be something serious going on, if Wilsons of Sharrow is suddenly discontinuing the greater part of their production and Roderick is jumping upside down.

    I recently read the Poeschl website and they had an article about changing many names on their product line. And that's it. Sure, they are a bigger company, so they can better afford the costs, and they mostly sell only in one quantity, so maybe not a big deal for them. But what I am thinking is that there might be different ways of understanding this whole thing in different parts of Europe.

    If it is as @Duerendal says, and the fees are only applied in UK, there are couple of things. First, maybe one could register in some other EU member state? Second, as the UK is the biggest or at least second biggest snuff manufacturer in Europe, making the UK legislators to understand the devastation they are bringing to UK manufacturers could in reality just do the trick. 

    I also agree with Duerendal with the registration in separate countries. One product registered in one country is registered for all of them with all the other products. It should clearly be stated somewhere if it does not hold for tobacco, as it goes clearly against the principles of common market.

    Now I haven't read all the information about the issue, so I might be totally off-tracks though. 
  • RoderickRoderick Member
    edited November 2016 PM
    Great if it is only one country (not what I have Been told). I quote "The TPD makes it clear that all products notified for sale to EU Member States must be notified for sale in those Member States in which they are sold". However we still have to come up with over
  • RoderickRoderick Member
    edited November 2016 PM
    This is the second part of my post.. Snuff house doesn't like pound signs GBP50k. I so want to swear. Making an FU EU snuff is so tempting. I could hand it out outside Parliament.
  • @Roderick, do they still have that tradition of the public snuff box outside the members' entrance to the House? Or did that go the way of Black Rod? A natural fit!
  • 50ft_trad50ft_trad Member
    edited November 2016 PM
    Yeah, the snuff box is still there, residing in the doorman's chair (forgot the proper title of the chap).

    Roderick, would only registering 10g tins and 50g or 100g bulk (for EU, with ROW having access to full range) and only registering in the UK, save the day if you don't manage to get any leeway on the fees themselves? Maybe don't bother registering USA or SD snuffs in EU unless any of them are particularly big sellers.

    I appreciate that ANY new costs for a small business can be a huge problem, but it seems that registering PART of the range to get them off your back (with the possibilities of workarounds later) might be less Cap Ex than the alternatives. Hopefully they'll see sense on the unfairness of the fees for high range/low volume producers though, and adjust fees accordingly.

    Any idea when the conclusions from the consultation may be decided?

    Apologies if these questions are too "prying" for a public arena.
  • I am registering everything, 4,000 plus, in the hope that they realise how crazy this is. I am ready to go to the press as soon as we fully understand what can be done. The biggest problem I see is the number of EU snuff makers who still don't know anything about this. I was contacted by a medium sized German company last week asking what was going on. 
  • So it's not just UK producers that are ill informed then.

    I remember back when the Machineries Directive came in (early 90s?). I was working for a machine tool manufacturer at the time, and got the job of ensuring compliance. We got hit by the rules too late, only found out about them by accident, and got zero support in going through the process of getting compliant. Sounds like some things never change....
  • The idea of a common market is that you don't need to register in every country. The EU comes up with a bunch of rules that every state agrees and implements, then voila harmonised trade.

    One thing that stands out:
    "The TPD makes it clear that all products"
    The TPD talks about products, not pack sizes... I'd also imagine part of the costs are for the UK government to report to ECHA or whoever is processing all this data.

    One more thought is that if the registration fee really is as described, then it's totally disproportionate to the costs of processing this data, and in that case it becomes an illegal penalty under English law, and would be ripe for a legal challenge.

    Maybe you remember a few years back when banks were charging 30 GBP to tell you that you were a couple of pounds over your overdraft, and the courts ruled that this was excessive for the cost of a computer generated letter and a stamp, and needed to be lower.

    Oh, and it makes no sense to have separate registrations for Tom Buck and Queen's extra strong etc. So some rationalisation makes sense.
  • Unfortunately we do have to register in every EU state we wish to sell in and the cost is dramatically disproportionate to the amount we will sell. Every pack size is considered a different product. Even though the snuff inside is THE SAME PRODUCT in the 1g bullet to the 400g bag.

    Duerendal, Please write to your MP, MEP and Public Health England as what you say is spot on. It IS so unfair on customers and manufacturers.
  • Okay, I'm not a lawyer or anything, so you guys might want to double check this with one.

    Looking at the registration document, it talks about registering "products". The legislation definitions talk about a "varient name" as "any name by which that *product* is distinguished from other *products* under the same brand name".

    This implies to me that if I start Duerendal brand snuff, and use the same basic tobacco for my salt and vinegar snuff, as well as my roast chicken snuff, I should be able to include both on my registration document and just pay one fee.

    Later in the legislation, it also defines a "unit pack" and a "container pack" as 'the smallest individual packaging in which that *product* is sold' and 'any packaging in which that *product* is presented for sale enclosing a unit pack or packs' (I've paraphrased those last two definitions).

    I think this confirms that only the different varieties of snuff would need to be registered, regardless of whether they're sold in a thimble or a bucket, and if one snuff is substantially the same as another?variety, it might even be possible to include both on the same registration.

    Feel free to send me a lifetime supply of free snuff, if this helps anyone save hundreds of thousands of pounds in unnecessary fees.

    More concerning is that the regulations make an importer responsible for complying with these regulations, if they are bringing snuff into Europe, so it looks like Mr Snuff etc. are going to be in for some fun.
  • Unfortunately, writing to my MP wouldn't do much good, he's regularly in the local paper with talk about how much he hates smokers, wants e-cigarettes banned, campaigned to ban khat, pushed for legislation to ban smoking in cars, wants shisha bars closed, blah blah... So I get the feeling that letters about any sort of tobacco will fall on deaf ears, or get me a "think of the children" reply.

    As soon as this Brexit business goes through, I'll wager that the fellow will push for a total ban on tobacco in the UK.
  • 50ft_trad50ft_trad Member
    edited November 2016 PM
    Duerendal, I think the unit pack and container pack, is to distinguish between (in cigarette terms) packs of cigs and cartons (i.e. Packs of packs) rather than different packaging sizes. Therefore a 10 pack of 10g tins wouldn't need reregistering, but a 100g bulk tub is a different product (in their eyes).

    I know what you mean about writing to people who don't listen. Our MPs seem to have forgotten that we elect them to represent their voters, rather than their appointment just being a green light for their own personal vendettas. They should spend less time telling us what we SHOULD think, and more time listening to what we actually DO think.

    Remember at this stage the people who are meant to be enforcing these rules probably don't understand them yet. If they did, there wouldn't be all this confusion, as one phone call from any manufacturer would have it all cleared up. The fact that even the manufacturers who are to be bound by these rules, are still trying to understand what the true implications are speaks volumes.

    I also can see your perspective that the renaming of tobacco products is cigarette and rolling tobacco based, but one UK and one German manufacturer have both confirmed they're renaming snuffs so as not to fall foul of the lack of clarity. It's not about whether a mill (or you and I) can interpret the rules a certain way to minimise change and cost, but whether a prosecutor can interpret them a different way to suit their own agenda.

    Poschl will probably have a very well paid professional legal team digesting these rules for them to ensure they keep themselves free of litigation, and they've opted to rename snuffs which means new packaging, website changes etc etc etc. They wouldn't go to that expense unless their legal team determined it is absolutely necessary.
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