The Dutch government is working on new legislation to ban all e-cigarette flavours early next year to reduce the appeal of vaping to young people.
In a letter to the Chamber of Representatives (Tweede Kamer) earlier this week, health secretary Paul Blokhuis said tobacco flavour would be exempt from the ban “in order not to discourage smokers who wish to quit smoking by using e-cigarettes”.
The Dutch Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) believes there are increasing signs that e-cigarettes serve as a quitting tool for those who want to give up smoking but that there are some flavours – especially sweet and exotic ones – that attract young people.
The new ban on flavours is expected to come into effect in spring 2021 after legislation is drafted and considered by parliament.
Blokhuis said “a smoke-free generation should also be an e-cigarette-free generation” and that vaping would play an important role in government policies towards the goal of no young people smoking by 2040.
From 1st July, e-cigarettes will be included in the Tobacco and Smoking Products Act, substantially limiting the public areas where vaping is allowed. Vaping on all school grounds will be prohibited from August.
The health ministry also intends to introduce neutral packaging for e-cigarettes in 2022, as stated in the National Prevention Agreement (Nationaal Preventieakkoord).
New tax scheme
Meanwhile, the Dutch Ministry of Finance is working on a new tax scheme for e-liquids, and Blokhuis announced that the cabinet will make a decision on that shortly.
“Such a tax would contribute to ensuring that e-cigarettes with or without nicotine do not become popular alternatives to smoking products among young people,” the health secretary said. He said the proposal was “logical” and “consistent”.
Furthermore, the Dutch government strongly believes that e-cigarettes should be included in the next revision of EU Directive 2011/64 on the structure and rates of excise duties applied to manufactured tobacco, following the recommendations issued a few weeks ago by the Council of the European Union.
Blokhuis also announced that he is preparing an amendment to the Tobacco Act to regulate heated tobacco more strictly as these devices have been already considered as “harmful and addictive” by the RIVM.
The government wants to extend to heat-not-burn (HnB) products all the restrictions on age and neutral packaging that already apply to traditional tobacco and “immediately” enforce a ban on advertising them.
The industry, however, believes these political moves are “dangerous” as they could lead a number of users to return to smoking.
“Even the Trimbos Institute [of Mental Health and Addiction] holds that a ban makes it way less likely that people who want to quit smoking transfer to the proven less harmful e-cigarette. In fact, this ban will cause current vapers to fall back on regular cigarettes,” Emil ’t Hart, chairman of the Dutch Electronic Cigarettes Association, told ECigIntelligence.
What This Means: Paul Blokhuis, named by ECigIntelligence last year as one of the 20 influential individuals to watch on e-cigarettes worldwide, is moving forward with his plan for the Netherlands to have one of the tightest regulations for e-cigarettes and other tobacco-alternative products in Europe.
According to a Trimbos Institute study commissioned by the Ministry of Health, 3.1% of Dutch adults now occasionally use e-cigarettes. Although largely seen as an aid to smoking cessation, the research reveals that almost three-quarters of vapers still smoke too.
– Tom Mentink ECigIntelligence contributing writer
Photo: Ben Scherjon