NNA and NCSCT show strong support for vaping
Denmark has proposed a bill which would impose strict regulations on vaping products. One aspect of the proposition suggests that the sale of flavoured e-liquids should be banned, which has been condemned as nonsensical by several public health commentators and the European Commission has demanded that it be amended.
The proposed bill was published on the European Commission website. The bill is an amendment to a number of Acts, including the Act on Electronic E-cigarettes. There are twelve suggestions in total; three of which stand out as being particularly harsh and counter-productive.
- Ban on flavourings in tobacco products and electronic cigarettes
- Standardised packaging
- Display ban
If this bill was implemented, here’s how the state of vaping would look in Denmark. Vapers would only have the choice of tobacco or menthol e-liquid flavours. All packaging of vaping products would be bland and all the same colour with logos which “must not stand out”. This plain, dull packaging would also not be visible to consumers at the point of sale, so vapers must specifically request permission to see the products. This applies to both retail stores (dedicated vape stores not included) and online.
This scenario would undoubtedly make vaping less appealing to Danish people, potentially easing vapers who have made the switch away from smoking back to their deadly habit. It would also certainly dissuade current smokers from making the switch over to much less harmful vaping products. It’s important to add that traditional tobacco products would remain readily available.
The reasoning for Denmark’s proposed actions are cited as follows: “The agreement includes a wide range of initiatives intended to stop and prevent smoking and nicotine dependency among children and young people”. This is not the first time that youth vaping has been used as a scapegoat to introduce harsh vaping legislation. In the States, the vaping industry has been almost decimated by an apparent teen vaping epidemic which has later turned out not to have happened. Research from the UK, and further afield, shows no sign of a problematic youth uptake of vaping.
This is of course not good news for Danish vapers, but the response from recognised civilians and public health advocates certainly gave us solace. The bill was open to contributions to the European Commission and it was inundated with comments from aggrieved vapers.
Updated: 28th August 2020
European Commission Demands amendment to Denmark’s proposed bill
Weeks after the Danish bill was proposed, The European Commission responded, demanding that the bill is amended. The Commission’s demands referred to section 12 of article 7 of the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) which explains that: when characterising flavours “cigarettes and rolling tobacco are exempt from prohibitions”. The Denmark Bill therefore contravenes this section of the TPD, hence the course of action from the European Commission.
The European Commission also asks the Danes to substantiate the impact that their proposal of restricting importation of vaping products into the EU would have on public health, suggesting that the policy seems counter-productive.
The European Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates (ETHRA) also expressed their concern regarding Denmark’s proposition:
“We are concerned that the bill will deprive Denmark’s 786,000 adult smokers of a way out of deadly combustible cigarettes and will also make it very difficult for the 250,000 vapers in Denmark to remain smoke-free”
“The ban on flavors, the ban on visibility, the stricter ban on advertising and sponsorship, the introduction of standardized packaging and various measures will make vaping more expensive, which will prevent adults from turning to these. safer solutions and thus prolong the duration of smoking”
It is unknown whether the European Commission’s response is on the back of the submissions last month, but it’s very likely that they had a significant sway on proceedings. There was a high volume of submissions, including comments from well-established organisations.
Advocates revolt against the Denmark vaping proposition
NNA certainly didn’t hold back in its statement, showing strong support for e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation aid. Here are some highlights:
“The idea that banning flavoured e-liquid would have any benefits on health is based on nothing but prejudice and conjecture.”
The comments continued by rightly explaining vaping’s positive contribution to reducing smoking rates and suggesting the role which flavours have in this progress.
“Why on Earth does Denmark think that restricting flavours to tobacco and menthol only can possibly help people to switch away from smoking?”
NNA’s concluding comments urged the EU to reject the proposal and not allow the counter-productive suggestions to infiltrate the rest of the EU.
“If Denmark wants to inflict a policy of self-destruction on its own, that is fine, but this kind of nonsense must not be allowed to bleed into the rest of the EU.
“The best thing you could do for the health of millions of EU vapers and smokers who may wish to quit, is to reject this proposal so that it does not create a precedent across member states.”
NCSCT was more measured in its comments; stating very valid points and exploring the benefit and importance of e-liquid flavours. The contribution reads:
“I implore the Danish authorities not to proceed with a flavour ban that would limit the availability of flavours more pleasant than tobacco and menthol. Making vaping more appealing to adult smokers is key to reducing the harms from smoking traditional combustible tobacco. In the Stop Smoking Service I used to run (the first ever to become vape-friendly) it became very clear that adult smokers who switched to vaping found the flavours a real incentive to stick with vaping and not return to smoking. In the UK we have no evidence of young people being tempted to vape if they hadn’t already smoked, but adults have made vaping the most successful way of stopping smoking. Please do not deny Danish people a way of switching to vaping and staying switched. They are doing it because they don’t want to die of a smoking-related disease. Thank you”
The developments from Denmark are a double-edged sword. On the one hand, you have the realisation that supposedly forward-thinking countries like Denmark are still suggesting quite ludicrous vaping legislation. On the other hand, you have the applaudable defence from UK public health commentators. We hope one day to see the latter outweigh the prior, resulting in the global outlook of e-cigarettes tipping in favour of progressive vaping policies. Globally, the UK is a leader, and it is frustrating to see much of the rest of the world making such slow progress. A couple of examples of the UK’s forward-thinking approach to e-cigarettes are positive campaigns from Public Health England and cancer Research UK. Further information on the UK’s official endorsement of e-cigarettes can be found on our ‘Is vaping better than smoking?‘ page
The true reasoning behind the introduction of anti-vaping legislation in foreign countries would, for the main part, merely be speculation. Whether it is to fit an agenda, or if it is down ignorance and a lack of knowledge is not for us to say but we will continue to fight for what is right for the industry. It is a breath of fresh air to see organisations, some of whom were once opposed to vaping, backing e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation aid, and in no uncertain terms. It’s also refreshing to see the European Commission taking the comments on board, understanding the value of vaping and ultimately taking control and demanding that Denmark amend the policy.