The e-cigarette industry in Italy appears likely to receive gentle regulatory treatment from the government’s forthcoming implementation of the European Union Tobacco Products Directive (EU TPD).
Italy – which like all EU member states must transpose the TPD into its own national law by mid-May 2016 – will not use the transposition as an opportunity to go further than the TPD and introduce additional restrictions such as public vaping bans, as some European countries have done.
Its draft plans show that it will enact the product, packaging and labelling restrictions required by the TPD, although a grandfathering provision will allow non-compliant products that are placed on the market by 20th November this year to remain on sale until 20th May 2017.
Advertising in most media, including Internet, press and broadcast, will be banned, as will the use of e-cig branding or product names in other consumer products, and any marketing activity that provides information on smoking cessation.
Distance sales of e-cigarettes that involve the products crossing European borders will be outlawed – unlike most of the measures above, a restriction that the TPD leaves up to individual member states rather than imposing across the union – but online sales will still be permitted within Italy. Vending machines will also be allowed provided that they have age verification systems; in common with most European countries, Italy will forbid sale of e-cigs or e-liquid to minors.
Manufacturers and importers will have to provide TPD-mandated information on their e-cig products and sales to the government, the fees for which will be determined by the two departments enforcing Italy’s implementation – the health ministry, and the economy and finance ministry.
The plans for transposition are provisional, and will be discussed by members of parliament over the coming weeks before a 23rd November deadline for comment. A final text could, however, be issued as early as the first week of December.
What This Means: While they are not final, Italy’s laissez-faire transposition plans strongly suggest that this will be the last e-cigarette regulation in the country for the foreseeable future. Rome appears happy to forgo the opportunity to make more stringent rules.
For example, we certainly do not expect any public vaping law to be tabled at a national level, given parliament’s rejection of a short-lived ban in the autumn of 2013.
The remaining question mark is over tax, but a court ruling expected in early November may finally bring Italy’s on-and-off e-cig taxation saga to an end.