Recent MHRA Updates You Need to Know About

In a bid to tighten regulations and ensure public safety, the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has made a wave of updates that directly impact the vaping industry. For vape brand owners, keeping a finger on the pulse of these changes is not just advisable—it’s imperative to remain compliant and protect the integrity of your business.

This detailed blog unpacks the recent updates and highlights why awareness is your best defence against regulatory infractions.

The Disposable Ban Looms

The phasing out of disposable e-cigarettes in the UK is one of the most significant changes on the horizon. While official legislation is pending, the intent is to ban these products with a 6 month grace period for businesses to adjust.

This move will reshape the vaping market, pushing for sustainability and longevity in product design. Businesses that have relied on disposables will need to innovate and pivot their offerings to maintain market share post-ban.

For those new to the industry, avoiding investments in disposable products is a strategic move. For existing businesses, it’s an opportunity to reassess and diversify their product lines. Alternatively, there are many markets overseas such as the UAE, where disposables are still highly in demand – perhaps consider tailoring your products to these other markets? Contact us for help in taking your products overseas.

Operation Joseph in Full Swing

Operation Joseph, a government-sponsored initiative, is at the forefront of the UK’s drive to ensure vaping product compliance. This multi-agency operation brings together the MHRA, Trading Standards, The Chartered Trading Standards Institute, The National Trading Standards Strategic Intelligence Unit, and other regulatory partners to quash illicit sales to minors and combat counterfeit vaping products.

One of the operation’s startling findings is that in quarter 1 of 2023-24, 25.3% of test purchases resulted in the sale of vaping products to minors. Similarly, in this same time frame, 749,806 illicit vapes were seized. These figures only highlight the growing need for action.

The implications for vape brand owners are clear—compliance checks are intensifying. It’s now more critical than ever to have robust age verification systems and airtight regulatory adherence embedded into business practices.

Improper Submission Type

A concerning development from Operation Joseph is the detection of businesses misappropriating submission types, leveraging them to push through non-compliant products. This deceptive tactic of ‘type-jumping’ for product approvals not only circumvents regulations but also endangers public health by introducing untested or substandard goods into the market.

False or misleading information:

“49.  A producer or retailer is guilty of an offence if that producer or retailer provides information to a person pursuant to any obligation in these Regulations if—

(a)the information is false or misleading in a material particular; and

(b)the producer or retailer who provides the information either knows it to be false or misleading in a material particular,  or is reckless as to whether it is false or misleading in a material particular.”

Those identified to be potentially false or misleading will be assessed and if determined to be misleading, false or notified using an incorrect submission type, will be deemed incomplete and removed from UK Publication until the required corrective action has been completed. The MHRA will inform you of the temporary decision and provide an opportunity to establish compliance of the Notification or take the appropriate corrective action. Once this has been completed the MHRA will review your response and publish the corrected notification or permanently withdraw the relevant Submission if compliance cannot be achieved.

For vape businesses, this signals the need for a transparent and honest approach to product submissions. Any shortcuts or attempts to skirt approval processes could spell legal and reputational disasters.

Misuse of the MHRA Logo

An unexpected discovery of Operation Joseph’s investigations was the improper use of the MHRA logo by some vape businesses. This contravenes regulations that prohibit the use of the MHRA’s insignia in marketing materials without express permission.

Misrepresentation through logo misuse is a deceptive practice that compromises consumer trust and portrays an unauthorized endorsement. Brand owners must take this revelation as a warning, ensuring their marketing is both legal and ethical, with close attention to logo usage guidelines.

In conclusion

The essence of these updates is clear: the vaping industry is under the microscope, and ignorance of the law is no excuse. Staying informed and proactively adjusting business operations to align with regulations is the safest course to sail in this new era of compliance vigilance.

While these updates might seem daunting, they also present opportunities for businesses to differentiate themselves through transparency, superior products, and strong corporate responsibility.

In conclusion, navigating the shifting vaping regulations with diligence and foresight will not only keep you on the right side of the law but will also earn you consumer respect and loyalty. As updates continue to roll out, we’ll be here to keep you informed and your business ahead of the curve.