As expected, Parliament voted against the government's ban on flavours in e-cigarettes and e-liquid. But the debate got heated when Yasmine Bladelius (S&D) claimed that the emails and letters received from users were not sent by real people.
"Industry is behind this, not real people," said Yasmine Bladelius (S&D) in an exchange with Clara Aranda (S&D).
Although most things were ready for the vote in parliament A united road movement sat glued to the Parliament's webcast debate on the government's proposal to ban flavours in e-cigarettes. Not least, business owners who risked losing 90 per cent of their product range if the government's proposal had gone through. But this did not happen. As expected, a united opposition in the Parliament voted down the proposal.
"It is as if a constant year of stress is finally over. What a huge relief." stated Linus Gustafsson, an e-juice manufacturer from who runs two online vape shops, when the voting was finished and the votes counted. 177 MEPs voted against the flavour ban and 122 voted in favour of the government's proposal.
Parliament voted down the flavour ban
But nonetheless, the the debate on the proposal a bit of a rush. Johan Hultberg (m), Clara Aranda (sd), Pia Steensland (kd) and Anders W Johansson (c) emphasised their support for a harm reduction perspective in tobacco policy. They pointed out the differences between e-cigarettes and tobacco smoking and that the aim of the policy should be to reduce the harm of smoking - not to make it more difficult for smokers to switch to less harmful alternatives.
"A flavour ban on e-cigarettes is not in line with this. On the contrary, there are signals and studies that indicate that bans of this kind lead to the opposite - that more people start smoking - including young people - after the bans are in place. It is therefore a very risky proposal that the government has put forward." stated Johan Hultberg (m).
Accused "industry" of fake emails
Yasmine Bladelius (s) represented the government and was obviously not happy with the outcome in the Parliament. She also did not hesitate to accuse e-cigarette companies of influencing the decision.
"Members of the Social Affairs Committee have received thousands of emails from people claiming to have quit smoking using flavoured e-cigarettes. There are no studies to suggest that this is the case, on the contrary," said Mr Van Rompuy. Yasmine Bladelius.
She said that the people who contacted politicians in the committee probably do not exist in reality.
"Is it really true that Ann-Marie, 69 years old, sends an email at 2.30 a.m. saying that she has quit smoking with the help of a jotdgub flavour?" I wondered Yasmine Bladelius. "Of course the industry is behind these emails. If there had been real people behind them, it's a bit strange that a research team that wants to know more about this can't find a single person to interview. This is because there are so few people who manage to quit smoking with bubblegum flavouring, instead of using the evidence-based smoking cessation products available on the market" said Yasmine Bladelius.
"Listening to users"
Clara Aranda (S&D) Yasmine Bladelius replied that e-cigarettes are proven to help people quit smoking. And politicians cannot live in a bubble:
"I can decide for myself which emails are from real individuals and which are not. Of course, it can be part of a campaign, but as a politician I have to take a stand on that. And this doesn't just come via email, I also talk to people. I meet them in town, at meetings, discuss this with them and listen to what they have to say. I also have relatives who have managed to quit smoking with the help of these products," said Mr Perez. Clara Aranda.
Successful TasteBan.com campaign
According to Victor Bryn-Jensen, President of the Electronic Cigarette Industry Association, BELC, suggests Yasmine Bladelius comments that road users in Sweden have really made their voices heard. As previously reported by Vejpkollen, BELC launched the the website smakföbudet.se already in autumn 2021.
"The idea of the site was to make it easy for Swedish e-cigarette users to contact the right politicians regarding the flavour ban. It is not an automated channel, but information about the flavour ban, how it would affect companies and users, and a clear list of politicians in the Social Affairs Committee and their email addresses" says Vikcor Bryn-Jensen.
According to BELC's statistics, a total of 2929 road users have used the site to send emails to various MEPs.
"They could choose to write freely, or use a template where they filled in their age, how long they smoked, when they quit and what flavours they used to stay smoke-free" says Victor Bryn-Jensen.
The text was then transferred to a ready-made email that was exported to an email programme, depending on the user's settings.
"Then they clicked 'send' - if they were happy." says Victor Bryn-Jensen.
"No one is hiding"
According to BELC statistics, 348 people chose to use the simplified text. 10 downloaded their text in PDF format. 343 people chose to copy only the email address of one or two politicians.
"If Yasmine Bladelius If you don't believe that vaping with candy flavours is real, the next step is to visit a vape shop. It's not like anyone is hiding - either from her or from researchers" says Victor Bryn-Jensen to Vejpkollen.
Wants to invite Bladelius for coffee
A similar message was given to e-cigarette users Therese Ström, 38. Via her Tik Tok channel, she tagged Yasmine Bladelius and invited her for coffee.
"If you want to meet a voter, someone who is "real" and who is a fan of candy flavours, you are welcome anytime. I have been smoke-free for five years now, as has my husband. We are now a smoke-free family, with many friends around Sweden who have made the same journey. But we have two children, work shifts and find it hard to get away. I send emails when I can, even if it's three in the morning. Get in touch and we can have a friendly discussion about flavours" said Therese Ström via its CloudFamily_Official channel on Tik Tok.
Links to stakeholder organisations
Yasmine Bladelius in addition to being a member of the Social Affairs Committee, is also chairman of the The Centre for Alcohol and Drug Education (CAN)., an organisation with the aim of disseminating information about drugs and drug prevention measures. CAN has strong links to the sobriety movement and the National Association for a Drug-Free Society (RNS), as well as a number of associations that work in various ways for a tobacco-free Sweden (including the Professional Associations against Tobacco and VISIR). The chairman and vice-chairman of the organisation are appointed by the government. The association's reports are often used by the Public Health Agency of Sweden, interest organisations and the government to justify decisions or show statistics.
It was not clear in the parliamentary debate which research team had unsuccessfully applied for interviews. Vejpkollen has sought Yasmine Bladelius for a comment.
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