The Swedish government aims to impose stricter regulations on alternative nicotine products, including e-cigarettes and nicotine pouches.
February 27, the Swedish Ministry of Social Affairs has announced plans to ban all e-cigarette flavors except tobacco.
The announcement indeed came as a surprise to many, especially considering that Sweden reached its goal of going smoke-free in 2018 by supporting the use of another nicotine replacement product.
A chart released by the EU in May 2017 as part of a survey looking at smoking behavior across the EU ranked Bulgaria, Greece, and France as the countries with the highest smoking rates at 36%, 35%, and 33%, respectively. Netherlands, Denmark and United Kingdom were at the bottom of the list, all with 16%, and finally Sweden with a whopping 5%.
Sweden has achieved this position by adopting a harm reduction strategy to support a prohibition stance. It has done so by supporting the use of snus to quit smoking.
Snus is a moist pouch of tobacco powder that can be placed under the upper lip for extended periods. It is legal throughout the EU only in Sweden, considered an effective harm reduction product. However, it is also widely used in Denmark and Norway. Snus has not only made Sweden the country with the lowest smoking rate in Europe, but more importantly, it has also made Sweden the country with the lowest lung cancer rate in the entire continent.
Discussing the planned flavor ban, Michael Randall, the director of the World e-cigarette Users Alliance (WVA), said that 150,000 former smokers in Sweden who are vaping now could be forced to switch back to smoking if the measure goes into effect.
A flavor ban could force thousands of former smokers in Sweden to repeat the habit. Studies have shown that vapers are more than twice as likely to quit smoking. If they were banned, 150,000 e-cigarette users – nearly the entire population of Uppsala – would lose their taste and possibly return to smoking. It would be a significant setback in the fight against tobacco and its related diseases.”
“It is worrying that a country like Sweden, known for its pragmatism, is taking such a hard line on e-cigarettes. Politicians have lost their common sense, and it is e-cigarette users and smokers who suffer.”
Landl explained that the Swedish government’s goal is to impose stricter regulations on alternative nicotine products, including e-cigarettes and nicotine pouches. The revisions were initially scheduled to take effect on August 1, 2022. Still, parts of the proposal will take effect on January 1, 2023, and January 1, 2024, respectively, to provide time for stakeholders to adapt to the new requirements.