Government wants to ban flavours in e-liquids

Government investigators propose to ban all flavours in e-cigarettes and e-liquids from May 2022, except for tobacco flavours, but the ban applies to both nicotine and non-nicotine liquids. Reactions from concerned e-cigarette users brought social media to a boil.

"Please don't ruin our and others' chance for better health"
As the assistant nurse writes Karolin Mikkkola, 30 who quit smoking with the help of e-cigarettes four years ago. She reacted immediately when she read about the government's investigation, which proposes a ban on all flavoured e-liquids, with the exception of tobacco flavours. In a letter to the Minister for Social Affairs, she tells her story.

"I started smoking tobacco when I was 13 years old. The first time I managed to quit smoking was when I was 23 years old and expecting my first child. After that, I fell back and then made the same journey twice more. When I was 27 years old, I was introduced to e-cigarettes. Thanks to an amazing pear-flavoured juice, I decided to give it a try. I would never have made it with a tobacco-flavoured juice, because it tastes terrible." writes Karolin Mikkola to the Minister of Social Affairs Lena Hallengren.

The taste of strawberries was decisive

Karolin Mikkola says that the flavours in the e-liquid has been crucial, not only for her but also her family.

"My mum is 51 years old. Last year I bought an e-cigarette for her and her partner, with different flavours. They both quit regular cigarettes after abusing tobacco since their teenage years. Today their favourites are strawberry with milkshake and cake and a soft drink with sweet rhubarb, fresh strawberries and freshly picked cloudberries. So we are adults who love these sweet flavours. We couldn't get away from tobacco without them." writes Karolin Mikkola.

CAN: Few non-smokers use e-cigs

According to the government investigation, companies primarily use flavours to attract non-smoking users to start using e-cigarettes. As Vejpkollen previously reported this is a view that is widely shared by the different parties in the Parliament. An opinion also shared by the Socialist Group.

"Different flavours lure young people into a nicotine addiction," wrote Social Affairs Minister Lena Hallengren in a DN debate last week.

According to CThe National Advisory Council on Alcohol and Drugs (CAN), which regularly measures the use of e-cigarettes in Sweden, between 30 and 40 per cent of students in grades 9 to 2 in upper secondary school have tried e-cigarettes. When it comes to regular use, however, the picture is different.

"The majority of those who have used e-cigarettes have only tried them occasionally, while one (1) per cent in both grades do so daily or almost daily. As in the adult population, students who smoked were more likely to have tried e-cigarettes than students who did not smoke." according to CAN.

Investigator: flavours are not harmful

The dangers of e-cigarettes are not well understood, says government investigator Ingeborg Simonsson. Nicotine, which is the main common denominator between e-cigarettes and analogue cigarettes, does not cause cancer, she says. The flavourings in question are not considered risky either, according to Ingeborg Simonsson.

"At present, there are no data showing that specific flavourings used in the EU pose risks to e-cigarette users from repeated exposure. The concentrations of harmful substances coming from the flavouring are so low that they do not add substantially to the existing risks of respiratory tract damage". Ingeborg Simonsson.

At the same time, heating may produce other substances in the vapour that are still harmful to the body. Here, too, the report relies on small studies.
"But there is strong evidence that cardiovascular systems can be damaged" writes Ingeborg Simonsson.

Authority: only five per cent of the risk

Similar investigations in United Kingdom and USA have come to different conclusions regarding e-cigarettes and their effects on the body. The UK's Department of Health several reports found that potential cardiovascular damage is significantly lower for e-cigarette users than for smokers. According to the UK Department of Health, the risks of e-cigarettes are likely to be less than five per cent of the risks associated with smoking tobacco. However, according to the swedish government report e-cigarettes should not be compared to analogue cigarettes in terms of potential harm. 

"This is a product that is so different from smoking tobacco. It does not make sense to try to quantify the risks of e-cigarettes in relation to the use of smoking tobacco. Comparisons with smoking tobacco also risk making e-cigarettes appear less dangerous than they actually are." writes Ingeborg Simonsson.

In the UK, the Department of Health recommends since several years e-cigarettes as a harm reduction alternative to cigarettes. However, the Swedish Public Health Agency does not.

Thousands affected by a flavour ban

Therese Ström, an e-cigarette user and commentator, says the report misses the mark. And that the government's ban on flavours will have devastating consequences.

"There are thousands of us in Sweden who have saved our lives with these products. Unfortunately, many will probably go back to the extremely deadly smoking tobacco if this goes ahead. The flavours proposed by the government are way off the mark. And a black market with uncontrolled and potentially dangerous products will be a fact. It's extremely sad" says Therese Ström to Vejpkollen

"Risk that we go back to cigarettes"

Karolin Mikkola also fears the worst for herself and her family.

"Don't think any of us would switch to tobacco flavouring. The reason we left cigarettes is because it tastes so much better to vejpa. If there is only tobacco flavour, there is probably a big risk that we will go back to cigarettes", she tells Vejpkollen.

Moderate exposure of products

The committee's proposal also includes restrictions on signage in physical stores. The inquiry wants to see rules for "moderate exposure" of e-juice and e-cigarettes, a proposal declared by the lobby organisation and think tank Tobaksfakta earlier this spring.

The government will now send the commission's proposal for consultation and then submit a bill to the parliament. If the proposal is approved, the new law will apply from May 2022.

Vejpkollen reached out to investigator Ingeborg Simonsson for comment.

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4 Comments on “Regeringen vill förbjuda smak i e-vätska

  1. Why the constant moralising about 'addiction'? If people use nicotine in forms that do not cause serious illness and premature death and enjoy it, it is as unproblematic as drinking coffee. Some do not even use nicotine daily but only occasionally, party smoking. Even for them, switching to a vejp would be a health benefit. The podcast "Health for the unhealthy" with psychiatrist David Eberhard has repeatedly addressed the topics of tobacco harm minimisation, snus and e-cigs. It is clear that there is a political divide on how much the state should decide what we can do with our own bodies. The Social Democrats have a very paternalistic view of people. The fact that they constantly talk about "protecting the children" I see mostly as a pretext, they see the entire adult population as underage children when it comes to being able to handle things that may involve certain risks, nicotine products, food that may be unhealthy and alcohol. We are not expected to make such decisions ourselves. If you could buy a bottle of wine in an ordinary private shop, it is claimed that we would not be able to handle it without becoming alcoholics.

  2. The Swedish government is so double moral Ecigg has damaged the tobacco industry greatly, do you really think about people's health ban alcohol, close the systembolaget, close snus and ordinary cigarette companies, no you don't because you get a lot of money from them, unfortunately we live in a dictatorial world and Sweden is one of them.

  3. Hi, I have smoked for 40 years and am happy I have made the step from regular cigarettes to vape, but demand vape without flavouring. I think that both flavoured and unflavoured should be sold. The reason for this is that I want to expose my body as little as possible to sweeteners that are very harmful to the body, even though they are in very small amounts. The body is exposed to very serious poisoning that eventually leads to disease and ill health. You can further opt out of a harmful substance in addition to tobacco and at the same time keep the nicotine and smoke that I am looking for. Still not great, but better than the other option. Deanna

    1. Hi Deanna! Sorry for the late reply here. It has always been possible to buy e-liquid without flavourings. E-juice basically consists of glycerine (VG) and propylene glycol (PG), with or without nicotine, which are usually added separately. Most well-stocked vejp shops sell this, either in a mixture ready to vejpa (important to choose the right ratio of glycerine to pg 50/50 for small systems, 70/30 for larger ones). However, if you only use disposable models, it is more difficult to find a variant with no flavouring - it simply doesn't sell and few companies could afford to spend money on producing such a variant. If you're currently using a disposable model, the easiest option is to switch to a simpler pod system - where you refill the e-liquid yourself. It is not more difficult than that. I can add that it is also possible to reduce the nicotine content in e-liquid to the level you want, in the same way - simply mix as you like 😉.

      Stefan, editor and for many years vejper who does most things himself

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