How road users are saving their flavours - several campaigns launched

Companies in Sweden are now mobilising to stop the government's flavour ban. Using films, postcards and emails, customers are reaching out to politicians - and spreading the message:
"Flavours are key to staying smoke-free using e-cigs," says Victor Bryn-Jensen, chairman of the industry association BELC.

The person who ordered e-juice or anything else from a Swedish vejp shop in the last week may have received a surprise in the parcel. A small bottle containing "The e-juice of tomorrow". Exciting? Well, no.

"The bottle is empty. Because this is what it will look like if the government's flavour ban becomes a reality. We would like to remind customers that many vejpshoppers will go out of business if the government gets its way," says Mr Perez. Victor Bryn-Jensen, Chairman of the the trade organisation for electronic cigarettes, BELC.

Crisis at the end of March

This week, the government's proposal, which will banning virtually all flavourings e-liquids, Legislative Council. The government is now likely to present a detailed proposal to Parliament by 22 March at the latest. The Parliament will then vote on the proposal within one to two weeks.

Unclear what should be allowed

If the proposal is adopted, only e-juices with "a distinct smell and taste of tobacco"  be on the shelves.

"The government doesn't even bother to define what a tobacco flavour is or how to control it. Yet it affects over 90 per cent of all e-juices sold in shops. It's a completely crazy proposal that will only increase the sale of cigarettes and put many small businesses out of business," said Mr Van Rompuy. Victor Bryn-Jensen.

Ban on flavours - even for nicotine-free products

The new law will apply to both nicotine and non-nicotine e-juices. This means that even so-called shortfills (where the user can refill the nicotine separately) must taste like "tobacco". If the government gets to decide. At the same time, it is difficult to know where to draw the line. Victor Bryn-Jensen notes that the government consistently avoids defining what an e-liquid actually is. 

"It opens up the question of what a so-called flavour essence, or a concentrate, will count as? Will it count as an e-juice?" says Victor Bryn-Jensen.

Could be a loophole

Concentrates must be mixed with glycerine to function as e-juice and cannot be used as is in an e-cigarette. Moreover, flavourings and concentrates are already regulated under the Chemicals Act and are not specifically mentioned in the draft legislation. This would provide a loophole to keep flavours in some e-liquids in the future. But so far, nobody knows.

"There are mixed feelings about whether flavourings will also be included in the ban. It is not technically an e-liquid. But since the intention may be to use it to flavour an e-liquid with a different 'smell or taste is tobacco', it may well be banned. But at the moment it is extremely unclear and just confusing", says Mr Perez. Victor Bryn-Jensen.

Asks customers to contact politicians

While distributing empty juice bottles, BELC encourages customers to actively contact politicians. Via email or pre-addressed postcards distributed in shops.

"Tell them that flavours are important. We can say it all we want and can prove it with our sales statistics, but it doesn't matter. It has to come from a vejper, a voter, who is actually affected by the new law. What happens if your favourite flavour disappears?" says Victor Bryn-Jensen.

Make a film to spread the message

BELC has also launched a project to collect "testimonials" from its customers on film. Linus Gustavsson, which is responsible for Koyuki vapor, encourages vejp shoppers to help customers record a short film clip. The film will then be sent to BELC to be edited with other stories. The aim is to show the importance of flavours in smoking cessation in real life. 

"It's incredibly important that this message is clear," says Mr Perez. Linus Gustafsson. "Politicians need to understand that everyone likes different things and the wide variety of flavours we have today is the key to smoke-free for us vejpers. Right now it seems that no one in government believes that. Then films - with real faces and voices - can help. Telling us that 'tobacco flavouring' is a good option is like telling an alcoholic to stop drinking with the help of vodka-flavoured soft drinks." Linus Gustavsson

Briefly on the harm reduction debate in Sweden

Last year, the Swedish Parliament voted against the government's proposal for a new ANDTS strategy, one of the reasons being the lack of clear measures to reduce the harm caused by smoking. The Parliament wants an investigation to compare different nicotine products and their harm profiles with smoking. This should be done before any restrictive measures are introduced. The centre-right opposition also wants to introduce a harm minimisation perspective in tobacco policy, which would probably be affected by a sweeping ban on flavours. Read more about Parliament's decision here:

Government's tobacco policy failed in Parliament - "Do it again, do it right!"

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