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High court blocks sale of e-liquids

The Federal High Court of Justice (BGH) ruled sales of e-liquids containing nicotine violate current law governing allowable ingredients in tobacco products, the Sueddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) reported.

The impact of the ruling is unclear because Germany is in the process of revising its laws on tobacco products, the newspaper said on its website. German law must conform to the revised EU Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) by 20 May. The TPD regulates e-cigarettes for the first time.

Under current German law, which does not address vaping products, liquids such as the ethanol used in e-cigarette liquids are banned from tobacco products, the SZ said. E-cigarettes are subject to current law on tobacco products because the nicotine in e-liquids comes from tobacco, according to the BGH. The high court in its ruling did not clearly define which e-liquid ingredients were illegal, said the SZ.

Handed down 23 Dec but only now made public, the BGH ruling upholds a fine levied by a lower court in Frankfurt against a man who sold e-cigarettes and liquids in his store and online. During the proceedings, authorities confiscated 15,000 bottles of e-liquid from the business.

A statement by the VdeH e-cigarette industry association said the German court ruling violates EU trade provisions. Sales of e-cigarettes and liquids have been legal throughout the EU since the TPD first was approved in May, 2014, the VdeH said. “This judgement is a bad joke,” said VdeH Chairman Dac Sprengel. “We ask the German authorities not to take any hasty action.”

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