For e-cigarette consumers and advocates in the Netherlands, there are only a few days left to attend a brief public consultation by the Dutch government on a flavor ban on vaping products that could put current manufacturers out of business next year. The deadline for comments is September 28.

The new law, which will ban all e-cigarette flavors except tobacco, is expected to take effect on January 1, 2023, although products already on the market before December 31 this year can be sold until July 1, 2023. The law would ban the addition of flavors to nicotine-containing and nicotine-free e-liquids, and would apply to bottled e-liquids and pre-filled products.

In June, Sweden’s parliament rejected a bill to ban e-cigarette flavors. In addition to the Netherlands, six European countries have banned non-tobacco flavors. Flavored e-cigarette bans are already in place in Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Hungary and Lithuania, and a flavor ban in Ukraine will take effect in July 2023. No European country has implemented a blanket ban on all vaping products.

New list of allowed ingredients = invisible ban on all e-cigarettes

The consultation in the Netherlands is an opportunity to comment specifically on a new amendment to the country’s tobacco and smoking products order, which goes one step further than previously announced flavour restrictions. The Netherlands National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) and the Ministry of Health have come up with a list of just 16 ingredients that are allowed in legal tobacco-flavored e-liquids.

But manufacturers say a limited list of allowed ingredients will make it impossible to develop new flavors, including tobacco flavors.

E-cigarette advocates in the Netherlands say the ingredient restrictions would essentially put all e-liquid manufacturers in the Netherlands out of business, as they would have to scrap existing products and be unable to reformulate their tobacco flavors using the newly allowed flavor list.

Background of the Dutch flavor ban

In June 2020, the then Dutch Minister of Health Paul Blokhuis informed Tweede Kamer (Dutch House of Representatives) that the government would soon introduce a bill aimed at banning all flavours of vaping products except tobacco.

Blokhuis defended the proposed flavor ban using a government-commissioned study by the Trimbos Institute, which used carefully selected science to support its claim that flavored vaping products appeal to teenage users. The study also claims that “there is growing evidence that e-cigarettes are a stepping stone to tobacco cigarettes,” despite the lack of any real-world evidence of an “entrance effect.”

The government launched a public consultation in December 2020 and received a record number of comments – almost all of which were against the law. E-cigarette advocates also handed the government a petition against the restrictions, signed by 19,000 consumers.

In May 2021, the outgoing Dutch cabinet (Council of Ministers) approved the flavour ban, despite strong opposition from vaping users and the independent vaping industry, led by Dutch consumer vaping organisation Acvoda and trade association Esigbond.

The law was originally scheduled to take effect on July 1, 2022. Then in March 2022, Esigbond reminded the government that the approved list of raw ingredients contained known carcinogens, so the Dutch cabinet delayed the implementation of the law until 2023, while revising the list.

Now, the Dutch government will have to ignore a second round of opposition from e-cigarette users in the Netherlands and across Europe.

Source: Comprehensively compiled from electronic cigarettes, HNB information network

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