Swedish vejp shoppers forced to stop Danish vejpers

Danish authorities are currently hunting Swedish vejp shoppers. The reason is suspicions that Danish vejpers can buy flavoured e-juice and disposable vapes, which are now illegal in Denmark, via Sweden.
But what does it really mean for Swedish e-cigarette retailers? Vejpkollen has been following a case where the company iSmokeking got into trouble. 

Since last year, all e-liquids that do not taste of either tobacco or menthol have been banned from sale in Denmark. In addition, so-called disposables, or single-use cigs, were previously banned. Since then, Danish authorities have had a hard time. The bans also apply to foreign online shops. However, as Denmark is one of the few countries in the EU with restrictions on flavours and disposables, this means that virtually all shops that allow Danes to shop are breaking Danish law. 

"We received an angry letter from the Danish Safety Board accusing us of selling illegal products to Danes. They also wanted to know which suppliers we use and that they had sent the case to the police" says Fredrik Andersson, who runs the iSmokeking website, with a physical store and base in Uddevalla.

"Illegal to advertise"

Danish Safety Technology Authority reported iSmokeking for "marketing electronic cigarettes that were not registered and authorised in Denmark" via its website. This was despite the fact that no direct sales had actually taken place. The Danish Safety Authority nevertheless considered the activity to be illegal, simply because the products were available and therefore "marketed" to Danes.

"They simply threatened with fines for violating their laws. Even if not sold anything to Denmark" notes Fredrik Andersson.

Marketing or sales?

Furthermore, according to the Danish Safety Authority, iSmokeking has not registered the company with the authority, which is required to sell e-cigarettes and accessories in Denmark. Vejpkollen contacted the Danish Safety Authority to find out more about the notification. Lone HansenThe head of communications at the agency is not allowed to comment on individual cases, but believes that the "offence", as interpreted by the National Safety Board, is clear.

"Marketing something is the same as making a product available to the customer" replies Lone Hansen, Communications Officer at the Danish Safety Technology Authority when Vejpkollen asks about the case

"Mixing up the concepts"

The case has raised eyebrows among both users and businesses in Sweden. The fact that an authority in a single EU country can fine companies simply because their website is accessible to Danes with an internet connection is at odds with how e-commerce works in practice. Karl-Åke Johansson, President of the Users' Association New Nicotine Alliance Sweden (NNA Swe), reacted directly to the Danish authority's actions.

"There is a huge difference between advertising something and actually selling a product. Danish authorities have clearly confused the concepts here" says Karl-Åke Johansson to Vejpkollen.

Danes change their routines

And since Vejpkollen and NNA Sweden have been in contact with the Swedish Safety Board, unexpectedly new information about what applies. 

"They have admitted that the wording was incorrect and will hopefully change their practices in the future. A site that is accessible to Danes, and that only promotes e-cigarettes, is actually allowed to do so. But only as long as it is not possible to buy anything. However, it is of the utmost importance that companies review their websites to avoid misunderstandings" says Karl Åke Johansson.

Strict rules for e-cigs in Denmark

Danish rules on e-cigarettes and accessories are very strict. To sell the products, a company must first register with the Danish Safety Technology Authority and then pay an annual fee for the service. In addition, each individual product has to be authorised by the authority, which means additional high costs and restrictions on the product range. The Danish rules also differ from those in other EU countries. Disposable models are in principle completely banned (unless they are child-resistant), while only so-called 'tobacco flavours' and menthol are allowed as flavourings in e-liquid. This also applies to nicotine-free e-juice in the form of a so-called 'shortfill'.

"The law is quite new and Danish authorities have obviously targeted Swedish companies at the moment. In addition, the black market for electronic cigarettes and e-juice, especially disposable models, has exploded since the flavour ban was introduced last year, so it is not easy for them" says Karl-Åke Johansson.

"Not worth selling to Danes"

Victor Bryn-Jensen is chairman of the Electronic Cigarette Industry Organisation, BELC, and works for the e-cigarette company Cigge.se. He believes that it will be difficult for Swedish companies to justify sales to Danish vejpare, from a purely economic perspective, since the new laws were introduced.

"When we looked at the conditions, the expenses and appreciated all the hassle and extra work, we decided from our side to skip ALL sales to Denmark. We played it safe and blocked Danish IP addresses to all our sites and at the same time made it impossible to order to Denmark" says Victor Bryn-Jensen to Vejpkollen.

"It is important that companies are proactive"

However, he reiterates that companies in the sector do not need to go that far. In fact, it is enough to stop the purchase itself at the checkout. 

"But it is important that companies are proactive and review their websites now. If a company fails to act and the Security Authority makes a control purchase that for some reason goes through, then a legal offence has been committed and you risk a fine. So it's risky to carry on until someone 'says so'." says Victor Bryn-Jensen.

Awaiting contact with the police

Ismokeking still has to wait for a decision from the Danish police. Even though they probably did not commit a direct offence, the process must take its course, says Fredrik Andersson.

"The Danish Safety Technology Authority has notified us and admits that they have used a strange wording. They cannot prove that we have sold anything to Denmark. But they have already sent the notification and cannot withdraw it. It's really quite absurd." says Fredrik Andersson to Vejpkollen.

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