What’s happening in Belgium and other important points

27 October 2019

Last month we took a close look at the Brexit situation and how vaping was likely to change as a result of it. We have had a great deal of positive feedback and follow up questions after the article. So in an upcoming Vapouround article this month, we would like to go over a couple of items: enforcement action for non-compliant TPD, (why compliance is not just a box ticking exercise) and things to look out for in Belgium.

So lets start of with Belgium.
We look after quite a few customers who have products listed in Belgium. The authorities have been active in recent months getting the notifications into a shape they like. A couple of key points, initially it looked like they had a much tighter demand on banned substances than the UK. But in fact it’s the same list as the UK, just with some different interpretation and technical terms being used.

The other key point is the Belgium authorities would like to know who is responsible for distribution of each product in Belgium, and they want that information providing through the XML as part of the product notification. We have been updating the technical files for a number of our customers and re-submitting products. There was a minor difference in how they want the branding and sub branding submitting, including nicotine strengths, so we have been updating those at the same time.

If you are in Belgium you need to be checking your submissions and updating them.

Compliance is not just box ticking.
We have been saying it for years, although its obviously self-serving advice for us, that compliance is not just box ticking. The initial submission of notifications was fairly formulaic and we have seen quite a few low cost operators offering compliance on the cheap, or companies cobbling together tox data and fudging together notifications. However some of those products are going to start to come undone as notifications and TPD move away from just the admin to an age of complexity. We are seeing the age of enforcement and scrutiny upon us.

Just in the past 5 or 6 months we have engaged in some pretty rigorous toxicology assessments for compounds that are critical to some successful flavours but on the face of it may be banned. By engaging in highly detailed toxicology reports that look at the overall exposure from various vaping patterns, metabolism of the products systemically and in the lung, and excretion of those metabolites, we have been able to look at the safety of certain compounds and set detailed exposure limits. This has always been part of toxicology assessments but the detail of these reports is now extremely advanced, and the methodology has been presented at the AIT (Association of Inhalation Toxicologists) conference in the USA.

We are also doing the same for degradant products, although this has some distance to go the regulators are taking a strong interest in moving beyond reporting and looking for high peaks but start to put real safety protocols together. So our concern is that as the regulations mature, the requirements for compliance will become increasingly complex and many companies will not have the regulatory experience to manage the situation. The industry has fallen into the trap of viewing compliance as a one hit task, rather than an ongoing responsibility.

Key regulatory shortcomings and enforcement

The key regulatory shortcomings:

  • Packaging not being correct, for both CLP and TPD
  • Not notifying multipacks under their TPD
  • Putting out pods under their 10ml notifications

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