The Danish Parliament voted this week to ban flavours in e-liquids. This is despite the fact that the ban is contrary to the EU Treaty and free trade within the Union. The ban will come into force in April 2022 and includes all flavoured e-juices, except for tobacco flavours and menthol.
"There is a mixture of frustration, surprise and confusion at the moment," says Kim Dabelstein Petersen, President of the European Commission. DADAFO, the Danish Road Transport Association..
The Danish government has decided to ban virtually all flavours in e-liquid. At the same time, the government will ban both exposure and "enticing" packaging. This would mean the end of vaping as an effective smoking cessation method in Denmark, according to DADAFO. At the same time, the law will put a stop to vaping in the country.
"If the companies do not take legal action, they will lose their business within two years," says Mr Perez. Kim Dabelstein Petersen to Vejpkollen.
Breaking the EU Treaty
Such as the Road Column previously reported the European Commission considers that the Danish ban on flavoured e-juice is not in line with the EU's harmonised market. And since flavoured e-juice is available for sale in other EU countries, the flavour ban is a direct trade barrier.
"This is a violation of the EU Treaty. The Danish Parliament made a choice to allow flavours when implementing the European Tobacco Directive into law." says Kim Dabelstein Petersen.
The ban is part of the Danish government's efforts to reduce smoking in Denmark. The plan is to establish a comprehensive regulatory framework for all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes. The proposal also includes provisions on plain packaging, whereby tobacco products cannot be sold in anything other than neutral, "non-attractive" packages. This will also apply to vapour products.
Flavour ban threatens free trade
In a letter to Denmark's Minister of Health, Mr Magnus Mr Heunicke as recently as November, the European Commission urged the Danish government to delay the planned ban. At least until the issue of flavourings has been addressed in the revision of the European Tobacco Products Directive (TPD).
"The current proposal goes against the temporary derogation allowed by EU law for these products. We will address the regulation of flavourings in the review of the current Tobacco Directive and look forward to working closely on this in 2021." the EU Commission wrote
'Flavours are not a threat to health'
The Danish government, on the other hand, believes that flavour bans are possible. In a reply to the commission The government compares flavours in e-liquids to flavours in tobacco, citing that the flavour ban is intended to protect young people from potentially harmful products.
"They invoke the so-called 'health clause', which allows EU countries to ban products that pose a direct threat to people's health at a local level. But the arguments about flavours attracting young people are more about emotional arguments, suspicion and ignorance. Flavoured e-juice in itself is not a real health hazard. And then the health clause does not apply," says Mr Perez. Kim Dabelstein Petersen.
"Nobody knows what is happening"
Jeanett Bergfriedt Andersen, spokesperson for the Danish E-Cigarette Association, BECIG, says that the confusion is almost total after the decision in Parliament. Many hoped that the government would take the EU's request more seriously.
"I think the government will have to wait to introduce the law. But nobody knows what's going on right now," says Jeanett Bergfriedt Andersen to Vejpkollen.
BECIG has been trying this week to get a clearer message from the authorities about what will apply, but without success. What is worrying for businesses
"At present, we do not know whether we will be allowed to sell only tobacco-flavoured e-juice after 1 April 2022," says Jeanett Bergfriedt Andersen.
Important for companies to act legally
According to Kim Dabelstein Petersen and DADAFO, it is important for road transport companies to act quickly now. Otherwise, they will be without most of their revenue-generating products in 2022.
"We urge the road hauliers to go to court. They will lose their business otherwise. The Danish government knows that they wrote a law that goes against the EU Treaty. There are also possibilities for the European Commission to take legal action. But in the meantime, the law will remain in force," says Kim Dabelstein Petersen.
Tobacco companies take over e-cigs
If, or when, vape shops disappear, the e-cigarette market will be open to another industry, according to Kim Dabelstein Petersen. The tobacco industry.
"Tobacco companies have almost nothing to do with the vape market in Denmark today. 95 per cent are independent companies. Flavours are not important to the tobacco companies. They only use them for marketing. When competition disappears, they will take over. We will only have British American Tobacco and their VYPE. If the purpose of the law is to get the tobacco companies out of the market, then the Danish government's strategy becomes quite ridiculous." says Kim Dabelstein Petersen.
E-cigs twice as effective as nicotine medicines
According to DADAFO, 75,000 Danes currently use e-cigarettes to stay away from analogue cigarettes. Ministry of Health and Ageing for its part, like the Swedish Public Health Agency, does not recommend e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation tool. The reasoning is that e-cigarettes are not an authorised medicine. At the same time, a recently released report from the influential Cochrane Institute shows that e-cigarettes are twice as effective at quitting smokingcompared to nicotine medicines.
The ETHRA association, which is run by 23 independent consumer associations in the EU, has launched in the autumn a questionnaire survey where road users answer questions about their use of e-cigarettes and e-liquid. So far, 35,000 users have responded to the survey, which is open until the end of the year. The aim is to provide a clearer picture of the current use of e-cigarettes in view of the upcoming revision of the European Tobacco Products Directive (TPD).