Selling Tabacco and Vapour Products in the Netherlands
Category: Food and commodities practice
Regulation on Vapour Products in the Netherlands
The EU Tobacco Products Directive (2014/40/EU) was issued for tobacco and related products in order to ensure health protection for European citizens. The Tabacco Directive entered into force on 19 May 2014 and became applicable in the EU Member States on 20 May 2016. The Tabacco Directive was implemented in the the Dutch Tobacco Act (Tabakswet) that contains rules intended to reduce the sale of tobacco products and electronic cigarettes. The scope of the Tabacco Directive is extended to electronic cigarettes and includes safeguards (e.g. maximum concentration of nicotine of 20 mg/ml, maximum single use cartridge size of 2 ml and maximum volume of refillable containers of 10 ml). As regards refillable e-cigarettes, the EU-Commission has reported on the potential risk to public health after the entry into force of the directive. If for justified reasons related to a serious risk to human health at least three member states have banned specific electronic cigarettes or refill containers, the Commission is allowed to extend the ban to all member states. Member states may authorise electronic cigarettes under the rules for pharmaceuticals if they meet the provisions of the pharmaceutical legislation.
Registration to conduct sales to the Netherlands from abroad
A form must be completed in order to apply for registration as a retailer who wants to conduct cross-border distance sales of tobacco products, electronic cigarettes, or refill containers to consumers in the Netherlands. This registration is mandatory if you are based in a country within the European Economic Area (EEA), or a country outside the EU. If you are based in a country within the European Economic Area (EEA), the sale of tobacco products, electronic cigarettes, or refills containers in the Netherlands is only permitted if this cross-border sales is also permitted in that country. If this is the case, you must also be registered in the country where you are based.
Online tobacco sales in Holland
The online sale of tobacco and electronic cigarettes is permitted. You can publish an overview of tobacco products (with or without logos) and a price list on your website, but the information must be neutral. When delivering tobacco products you are obliged to verify the recipient’s age. You have to be registered as a retailer with the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) in order to be allowed to sell these products cross-border within the European Economic Area (EEA). Registration is also necessary in the country where you sell your products. You are obliged to verify the buyer’s age even when cross-border sales are made. You may wish to have your website checked by one of our tabacco lawyers in order to avoid unnecessary interference of the Dutch Tabacco Authority (Nvwa).
EU tabacco and smoking legislation
The European Parliament and the Council have empowered the European Commission to adopt additional legislative acts to implement Directive 2014/40/EU (the Tabacco Directive). This legislation outlines in further detail the rules governing the manufacture, presentation and sale of tobacco and related products. The Council Recommendation on smoke-free environments has strengthened smoke-free legislation within public spaces, as well as EU cooperation on tobacco control. Currently, 17 EU countries have comprehensive smoke-free legislation in place. National measures tend to differ in extent and scope, with enforcement remaining an issue in some EU countries. Among these, Ireland, the UK, Greece, Bulgaria, Malta, Spain and Hungary have the strictest provisions with a complete ban on smoking in enclosed public places, on public transport and in workplaces.
Dutch legislation on tabacco (Tabakswet)
The Dutch Tobacco Act (Tabakswet) contains rules intended to reduce the sale of tobacco products and electronic cigarettes. You may only sell tobacco products and electronic cigarettes to people aged 18 and older. This must be displayed clearly for everyone to see.
• You may not sell tobacco products, electronic cigarettes and refill containers to people aged 18 or older if you suspect they want to give or sell these products on to younger people.
• You must ask for proof of ID to establish the person’s age. This is not mandatory for those who are obviously older than 18.
• Employees of retailers selling tobacco must be aged 16 years or older.
• Advertising for tobacco products or electronic cigarettes is prohibited. Tobacco advertising is only permitted subject to certain terms and conditions, for example, in tobacconists or tobacco points of sale.
• Tobacco products or electronic cigarettes may nog be provided free of charge.
• Sell tobacco products via a tobacco vending machine is subject to requirements;
– the vending machine:should always be locked
– sales from a vending machine can only take place to a person of 18 years or older
– is indoors and can be seen by the owner or staff
• Advertising of smoking implements is prohibited, whether or not they contain tobacco, and including the e-cigarette (except for special e-cigarette stores).
• Selling e-cigarettes or vaporizers without nicotine to under-18 year olds is prohibited.
• Sales of non-nicotine-containing refill fluids and herbal mixes without nicotine for the waterpipe or vaporizers to persons under 18 year old is not allowed.
If you have any questions on these requirements please feel free to contact our specialized lawyer on regulatory and compliance Mark van Weeren.
Dutch legislation for e-cigarettes and vapourizers
For e-cigarettes, vapourizers and e-liquids without nicotine the same rules apply as e-liquids with nicotine. For the recharge liquid the Reach Directive applies and the CLP Directive for assembling and labelling of the smoking products. Extra rules and requirement for e-cigarettes and vapourizers apply in the Netherlands for:
• safety of e-cigarettes
• the shape of the e-cigarettes; the release of nicotine; the maximum volume of the recharger or refill capsule (2 ml); child safety
• the liquid, it’s packaging and the quality
• the labelling; information on the packaging, including safety waring
• advertising of e-cigarettes and vaporizers; only allowed is specialty stores for electronic cigarettes
• advertising may not indicate that the product may help to stop regular smoking and may not give the impression that the e-cigarettes is not damaging for your health
Online tobacco sales in the Netherlands
Sale of tobacco and electronic cigarettes online is allowed in the Netherlands. The tobacco products and a price list can be displayed on the sales website, but the wording of information shuld be neutral. When delivering tobacco products in the Netherlands you are obliged to verify the recipient’s age also when selling tabacco products online. The online tabacco seller should be registered as a retailer with the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) in order to be allowed to sell the tabacco products cross-border within the European Economic Area (EEA). The NVWA is the Netherlands Authority that maintains and supervises the legislation on smoking and e-cigarettes. Registration is also necessary in other countries where the tabacco products are sold. The online tabacco seller obliged to verify the buyer’s age even when cross-border sales are made. This is the same for vapour products and e-cigarettes.
For any questions on the sale tabacco and vapour products in the Netherlands please contact Mark van Weeren.