Opposition rallies against flavour ban - "Optimistic for majority"

The centre-right opposition is now rallying to reject the proposal to ban flavours in e-cigarettes. In practice, this would mean that the proposal would fail in Parliament.
"I am optimistic that we will succeed in gathering a majority and thus stop the government's bad and clumsy proposals." says Johan Hultberg, spokesperson on health issues for the Conservatives in the Social Affairs Committee.

As previously reported by Vejpkollen The Conservatives together with the Sweden Democrats and Centre to vote against a flavour ban for e-cigarettes and e-liquid. The negotiations in the Social Affairs Committee, which have been ongoing since May, ended last week. Those who had not previously taken a clear position on the issue via motions were Christian Democrats and Green Party. But after three meetings of the Social Affairs Committee Johan Hultberg (m) cautiously in favour of the Conservatives' line being accepted.

"I am optimistic that we will succeed in gathering a majority and thus stop the government's bad and clumsy proposals." says Johan Hultberg to Vejpkollen.

Unofficial statement pending

A joint statement from the Social Affairs Committee on the issue is currently pending. This will then apply to the whole bill "Tougher rules for new nicotine products". It also includes a restrictive regulatory framework for nicotine pouches, which all parliamentary parties have called for. The official statement from the committee is expected to be ready on 14 June. It will then be voted on in Parliament on 21 June.

Flavour bans part of a wider debate

The proposal to ban flavours and nicotine pouches is part of a larger debate: a new strategy to tackle alcohol, drugs, doping, tobacco and gambling in Sweden. Just last year, the Social Affairs Committee rejected government strategy (the so-called ANDTS strategy). 

In addition to the lack of clear objectives, the committee also criticised drug and tobacco policies. The committee called for an inquiry into drug policy - where the issue of decriminalising personal use would be central. The government responded by setting up an inquiry that would explicitly NOT look at the possibility of decriminalising personal use. This provoked anger from, among others The Left Party.

Making the difference between nicotine products

When it came to tobacco policy, the emphasis was on the government wanting to equalise all nicotine products and reduce their overall use in society. This should be done without making a clear distinction between smoking tobacco and smokeless products such as snus, nicotine pouches and e-cigarettes. This was something that the Conservatives, the Centre Party and the Sweden Democrats, among others, opposed.

Government appointed new inquiry

Instead, the Social Affairs Committee proposed a government inquiry into the various nicotine products and their harmful effects - before action is taken. Such a study will now become a reality and should be finalised by June 2023.

The upcoming investigation became relevant when the issue of flavour bans was raised in connection with the government's proposal for stricter rules for nicotine products:

"Banning flavours on all e-cigarette liquids, including liquids that do not contain nicotine, seems unscientific and premature". Writes the Centre Party in its response to the government proposal on flavour bans.

The flavour ban is loose

The Centre wants to wait for the results of the investigation, and as it stands, the Centre's objection is also shared by large parts of the opposition. This could mean that the taste ban will not be passed when Parliament votes on 21 June. And although nothing is finalised yet, the Johan Hultberg (m), it is important to protect the alternatives that help smokers quit, be it snus or e-cigarettes.

"We need to have an increased focus on harm reduction. For us moderates, this means focusing on reducing traditional smoking. For many, e-cigs and snus can be the way to quit smoking", says Johan Hultberg to Vejpkollen.

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