Will Spain be one of the next EU countries to prohibit flavours for vapour products?

Spain’s vaping industry awaits the outcome of a law process that could end up banning flavours in nicotine products and imposing neutral packaging at least for tobacco products.

Earlier in April, the government launched a public consultation as part of the drafting process of a bill aimed at regulating the manufacturing, marketing and sale of tobacco products, including novel ones.

The law is expected to ban additives and components adding flavours to tobacco and nicotine products, including e-cigarettes. The bill is also supposed to introduce the requirement of neutral packaging for tobacco products. Spain’s government gave citizens and organisations until 23rd April to give their feedback on the plan.

The health ministry said: “This amendment aims to respond to the demands expressed by scientific and civil organisations related to this issue, in order to ultimately contribute to the improvement of citizens’ health and to the reduction of the risk represented by related products, especially for the young population, to begin nicotine consumption.”


A long process already met with negative feedback


According to Arturo Ribes, president of Spain’s vaping industry union UPEV, the soon-to-be-drafted text of the law will not extend the requirement of neutral packaging to vaping products, although it certainly intends to ban flavours for e-cigarettes.

“We will only know more when we see the bill,” Ribes told ECigIntelligence. “A law text should be drafted in three weeks’ time [after the consultation period ends], but in Spain this is difficult to predict, especially now,” he added, referring to current political turmoil affecting prime minister Pedro Sánchez.

“And after that,” Ribes said, “the text will also have to undergo public consultation before being approved by the government, making this a very long process in which the first text will at least define the direction towards which they [legislators] are moving.”

So far, Ribes said, representatives from the nicotine industry, as well as from the tobacco cultivation sector and the scientific community have given negative feedback to the law amendment through the consultation, which he believes will make it difficult for the government to push it forward.


Part of a bigger plan


Subscribe to our Newsletter

Join in to hear about news, events, and podcasts in the sector

    See more

    The flavour ban for vapes and the neutral packaging requirement for tobacco products are part of the government’s newly announced anti-smoking plan (PIT), which was recently launched by Spain’s new health minister, Mónica García, after a long delay under the previous legislature.

    The plan, which covers the years 2024 to 2027, mentions a ban on “additives conferring flavours to tobacco and related products, in line with what is agreed upon by the European Union”.

    In this sense, based on the text of the PIT, any decisions on flavour bans may be held up until the now-underway process of revision of the EU tobacco policy framework – in particular the EU Tobacco Products Directive – is concluded.

    This could mean that a flavour ban might actually not be included in the law Spanish legislators are currently working on, although such a ban is mentioned in the PIT, the implementation of which could extend through the next three years.


    The vaping industry is not tobacco, and it wants its say


    While Gárcia finally managed to push the plan forward in 2024, the vaping industry believes its representatives have not been sufficiently involved in the process. Ribes said: “This PIT was drafted with no knowledge and without taking into account the opinion of those who work in this sector and know the market well.”

    The UPEV’s president said the organisation repeatedly asked to meet with health authorities, but their requests were always turned down. “We reached out to the state secretary for health on several occasions, until he told us that, because we belong to the tobacco sector, they cannot meet with us,” he said. “But we have nothing to do with tobacco and none of our members belong to that sector.”

    According to the UPEV, while limiting the offer of nicotine products used as an alternative to more harmful tobacco smoking, a ban on flavours will not help keep under-age consumers away from e-cigarettes.

    Based on a yearly survey conducted for the UPEV by Spanish market research organisation Sigma Dos, in 2020 vaping incidence among under-18s was less than 1% in the country, increasing to 1.2% in 2021 when disposable e-cigarettes entered the Spanish market. In 2022, when sales of disposable vapes boomed in different types of distribution points such as clubs, bars, fuel stations and supermarkets, the incidence of under-age vaping in Spain reached 3.2%.

    “We propose two measures to stop this to the ministry of health,” Ribes said. “The first one is banning disposable e-cigarettes and the second one is limiting the sale of vaping products to specialised stores.”

    – Tiziana Cauli ECigIntelligence staff

    Photo: Emmanuel Anderson

    Tiziana Cauli

    Senior reporter/health & science editor
    Tiziana is an Italian journalist from Sardinia. She has worked for both international and local media in Italy, South Africa, France, Spain, the UK, Lebanon and Belgium. She also worked as a communications manager for several international NGOs in the humanitarian sector. Tiziana holds a degree in Political Science and a PhD in African Studies from the University of Cagliari and she’s a graduate of the Carlo De Martino school of journalism in Milan.

    Our Key Benefits

    The global e-cigarette market is in an opaque regulatory environment that requires professionals to be on top of industry developments to make informed decisions and optimise their strategy.

    ECigIntelligence provides organisations with leading market and regulatory data analysis to anticipate and understand market developments globally and the impact of regulatory changes to the business.

    • Stay informed of any legal and market change in the sector that impacts your organisation
    • Maximise resources by getting market and legal data analysis daily in one place
    • Make smart decisions by understanding how the regulatory and market landscape evolves
    • Anticipate risks in your decisions by monitoring regulatory changes that impact your organization