Waffles, friends and weaning - in the shadow of the flavour ban

There was a full house when iSmokeking celebrated Waffle Day with free waffles and coffee for customers. At the same time, the question of the impending flavour ban was in the air, as thick as the smell of jam and cream, in the Uddevalla store.

"It's definitely successful, I must say. There has been shuttle traffic all day in here. We barely have time to pack all the orders," notes Adrian Petrusson, shop assistant, as he takes a break from the waffle iron and sits down at one of the tables.

Important part of everyday life

Roadside shops have always been natural gathering places. Tables and chairs are almost as mandatory as e-juices, mods and tanks. iSmokeking is no exception. It is one of two vejp shops in Uddevalla, a town that has developed a contagious vejp culture over ten years.

"It is an important part of everyday life. I have a lot of friends that I would never have socialised with if it wasn't for vejpningen. We get to know each other here in the shop, trying different juices, talking about mods" says Magnus Tengberg when he is changing the coil in his tank, together with Max Johansson.

Smoke-free for 5 years

Magnus Tengberg stopped smoking 5 years ago, he says. He had smoked for 10 years before he found the right flavour in a vejp and quit. And he hasn't looked back, he says.

'I started smoking quite late, actually. When I was eighteen. Now I'm 33. For me it's been about actually being able to do what I want with my body. But without a really good flavour in my vejp, I couldn't have quit smoking. And I can't stand tobacco flavours, it's disgusting." says Magnus Tengberg.

"Why do we have to like tobacco?"

The government's proposed flavour ban is up in the air. According to the government, e-liquid should only be allowed to taste like 'tobacco', if at all. The reason is to make e-cigarettes less attractive to non-smokers, but still appealing to smokers. Magnus Tengberg does not see the logic in it.

"Why do smokers have to like only tobacco? That's exactly what you want to get away from when you stop smoking. If I wanted the taste of a cigarette, I would have continued to smoke a pack a day. Politicians who think they know what others need have not understood what vejpning is all about. They should go into a vejp shop and talk to people instead. If there were only tobacco flavours, I'd probably fall back on cigarettes again", says Magnus Tengberg.

Persuading smokers at work

He is joined by Erik Olsson from Tanumshede. He has vejpat for many years and got many smokers on board. But it took some convincing.

"I work in a chemical factory and we usually gather in the smoking area during breaks. I went there even after I stopped smoking, I vejped and the others smoked. Eventually they became curious. Unfortunately, smokers are the most sceptical about e-cigarettes. They hear this and that from the authorities and the media." says Erik Olsson.

"Taping is harm reduction"

He believes that many smokers need a little nudge to understand what vejpning is. Accurate facts about e-cigs are important. 

"I follow the research and try to keep track of what is happening. The UK Public Health Agency's reports are very educational and clear about what this is all about, the risks of vapour compared to smoking and so on. And that vejping is harm reduction. Many people don't know that," says Erik Olsson.

Flavours were key

But information is all very well. Allowing colleagues in the smoking area to test different appliances, and especially different flavours, proved to be key.

"Since I'm one of those people who buys far too many vejps, I brought four or five with different flavours to the smoking area. So they got to try them out. Now, a few years later vejpar 4 out of 5. I think it feels like a success" says Erik Olsson.

Tried plasters and all sorts of things

Also present were Linus "Koyuki" Gustafsson, a juice maker from Tibro who also runs an online shop with his own e-juice brand. He started smoking at an early age and, like so many others, found it difficult to quit, he says.

"I stopped smoking with a peach-flavoured e-juice. And then I had tried to quit smoking many times before, with chewing gum and plasters and everything. But it was that peach that did the trick," says Mr Perez. Linus Gustafsson.

From smoking cessation to business

It soon became clear that flavours would be more than just a way to get away from cigarettes, because Linus Gustafsson. Within a year and a half of quitting smoking, he had learnt to mix e-liquid. And started a business.

"It tasted terrible in the beginning. Nobody liked it. But then the competitive instinct took over and I was determined that it would be good. It took about a year from when I got the first DIY kit to when it was possible to vejpa the juice. Technically, I invested SEK 300 for a DIY kit and now it's my livelihood," says Mr Kane. Linus Gustafsson.

Swedish vejpshoppers important

He currently operates two online shops, one for flavour essences and one for ready-made e juice. But most sales are made in Swedish vejp shops. Like ismokeking. Being in the vejp shops from time to time is important, he says. He likes to travel around the country.

"It's a way to be seen - talk to vejpers and get feedback. That means a lot" says Linus Gustafsson.

The 31 March the government is due to present its new legislative proposal regulating nicotine pouches, and bans all flavourings except for "tobacco" in e-cigarettes and e-liquid. According to the government's investigation, the ban will hit small businesses hard, more than 90 per cent of all e-juices will be banned regardless of whether they contain nicotine or not. But the government thinks it is worth it to prevent more people from using e-cigarettes.

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