Latest Dutch Vape Flavor Consultation Ends September 28th
Consumers and vaping advocates have less than a week to take part in the Dutch government’s brief public consultation on a vaping product flavor ban that could put current manufacturers out of business next year. The deadline for comments is September 28.
The new law, which will ban all vaping flavors except tobacco, is expected to come into effect on January 1, 2023, although products already on the market by December 31 can be sold until July 1, 2023. The law will prohibit flavors in both nicotine-containing and nicotine-free e-liquids, and applies to bottled e-liquids and pre-filled products.
In June, the Swedish parliament rejected a bill that would have banned vaping flavors. Not including the Netherlands, six European countries have banned tobacco-free flavors. In Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Hungary and Lithuania, restrictions on flavored vaping are already in place and Ukraine’s flavor ban will come into force in July 2023. No European country has outright banned all vaping products.
The new list of permitted ingredients = a stealthy ban on all vapes
The consultation is an opportunity to specifically comment on a new amendment to the country’s Tobacco and Smoking Products Ordinance that goes further than previously announced flavor restrictions. The Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) and the Ministry of Health have proposed a list of only 16 ingredients that would be allowed in legal tobacco flavored e-liquids.
But the makers say the limited list of permitted ingredients would make it impossible to develop new flavors, including tobacco flavors.
According to Dutch vape advocates, the ingredient restrictions will essentially put all e-liquid manufacturers in the Netherlands out of business, as they would have to scrap their existing products and be unable to reformulate their tobacco flavors using the new list of authorized flavourings.
How to respond to the Dutch consultation
Although the law only directly affects the Netherlands, any government policy on such a controversial topic as vaping can have influence beyond the borders of the legislative country. This is especially true in the European Union, where member countries collaborate regularly on issues related to health and tobacco. As the British New Nicotine Alliance (NNA) points out, even UK vapers could be affected by flavor bans in EU countries.
Since the consultation is open to everyone, Dutch advocates are asking for input from vapers and tobacco harm reduction advocates across the EU and even in other parts of the world.
The consumer umbrella organization European Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates (ETHRA) has developed a guide for submitting comments to the consultation which makes the process simple. If you prefer to go it alone, you can go directly to the Dutch consultation and related information, including the list of permitted ingredients.
After commenting, encourage others on social media to do the same and use the hashtag #smaaknoodzaak (need for taste).
Dutch flavor ban background
In June 2020, then Dutch Health Minister Paul Blokhuis informed the Tweede Kamer (the Dutch House of Representatives) that the government would soon introduce a bill to ban vaping products in all flavors , with the exception of tobacco.
Blokhuis justified the proposed ban on flavors using a government-commissioned study by the Trimbos Institute that relied on hand-picked science to back up his claim that flavored vaping products appeal to teenage users. The study also claimed that “there is growing evidence that e-cigarettes are a stepping stone to tobacco cigarettes,” despite the lack of real evidence of a “gateway effect.”
The government launched a public consultation in December 2020, which received a record number of comments – almost all of them opposing the law – and vaping advocates also delivered a petition to the government signed by 19,000 consumers opposing the restrictions.
In May 2021, the outgoing Dutch cabinet (Council of Ministers) approved the flavor ban, despite massive opposition from vapers and the independent vaping industry, which was led by Dutch consumer vaping organization Acvoda and the industry association Esigbond.
The law was due to come into force on July 1, 2022. Then, in March 2022, Esigbond alerted the government that some of the ingredients on the initial RIVM-approved ingredient list were known carcinogens, so the Dutch cabinet postponed the implementation of the law until 2023 while it revised the list.
From now on, the Dutch government will have to ignore a second opposition round of vapers in the Netherlands and across Europe to implement its draconian response to adolescent experimentation.