June 22, 2022
Swedish Parliament has on Tuesday rejected the government’s proposal to ban flavours other than tobacco in e-cigarettes.
The parliament’s Social Affairs Committee, however, agreed with the government’s other proposals to tighten the rules on tobacco-free nicotine products, which include regulations on product notification, product requirements, sales and marketing.
The committee also asked the government to review the issue of making it a criminal offense to sell tobacco and nicotine products to persons under 18 years of age.
“This statement, from the committee, is a far better result than we hoped for. This would more effectively address the problem of underage vaping than a strict flavor ban would,” Karl-Åke Johansson, chairman of New Nicotine Alliance Sweden, told local outlet Vejpkollen.
Earlier this year, the Swedish government introduced a bill that would prohibit all non-tobacco vape flavours in nicotine and non-nicotine products. If approved, the bill is set to enter into force on 1 January 2023.
With the opposition from the committee, the proposal in unlikely to pass in parliament, Vejpkollen noted.
“This marks a shift in Swedish tobacco policy” Johansson added. “From a strategy of de-normalising the use of everything containing nicotine, to a more outspoken harm reduction philosophy where e-cigarettes have a major role to play.”
While the government claimed that a ban on flavours would help prevent minors from using e-cigarettes, its own study noted that a variety of flavors also entice adult smokers to switch from cigarettes to e-cigarettes.
A majority of the parliamentary committee considered this as positive and asked the government to investigate other possibilities for reducing use among young people.
Michael Landl, director of the vaping advocacy group World Vapers Alliance, welcomed the development.
“Today, we celebrate a huge victory in our fight against smoking. Flavours are a determining factor in helping smokers quit,” he said.
“If this ban had been adopted, 150,000 people in Sweden – almost the population of Upsala – could have been pushed back to smoking. Vapers, local activists and the WVA team have done tremendous work to make their voices heard. We made politicians finally listen!”
The World Vapers Alliance has been actively opposing the flavour ban in Sweden. In March, the group hosted an art installation in front of the Parliament to make the voices of Swedish vapers heard. In May, the group also delivered an open letter to the Swedish parliamentarians to draw attention to the science-backed facts.
Landl noted that the fight to save flavours is far from over.
“Flavour bans are in place in seven European countries, more have flavour bans on the legislative agenda, and politicians are discussing bans at the EU level. We need to make sure that politicians listen to consumers and make decisions based on scientific evidence, which has proved that vaping is much safer than smoking and flavours are an important part of smoking cessation,” said Landl.