"We've been warning about this for a long time. It's good that someone else sees it too. Now politicians must react more wisely than they have done in the past."
So says NNA Sweden's chairman Karl-Åke Johansson, after the police in Sollentuna realised that minors acquire their e-cigarettes in the same way as older young people acquire drugs.
The police in Sollentuna/Upplands Väsby and Sigtuna recently warned that minors who buy e-cigs do so through the same circles that sell drugs.
"We see that the approach is the same. And it risks becoming a gateway to other, worse things, further down the line." said municipal police Kristian Bengtsson in Vejpkollen.
Karl-Åke JohanssonChairman of the NNA Sweden user association agrees with Mr Bengtsson.
"The sale of smuggled weapons is a good reason for the dealer on the corner to cultivate a younger customer group. We in NNA Sweden have been warning politicians about this for a long time. No one thought it could happen, but now it IS happening" says Karl-Åke Johansson to Vejpkollen.
According to Karl-Åke Johansson this development is due to poorly thought-out legislation on e-cigarettes. This has become increasingly evident since the appearance of the attractive disposable models on the market. Restrictions and high taxes, combined with long waiting periods to sell new products, are hampering legitimate businesses and favouring black market sales.
"The engine of this is not just an idea of being able to sell to children, that market is far too small. But also adults are part of this market and it provides enough volume to be profitable for those who are doing this." says Karl-Åke Johansson.
The most attractive products illegal
Karl-Åke Johansson believes that the black market could be much smaller if only legislators learnt more about the real nature of the e-cigarette market. 'The goal must be to increase the volume of the legal market.
"The margins are already small for companies" says Karl-Åke Johansson. "It is difficult to compete in a market where the greatest demand is for products that you cannot sell, but these products can easily be imported and sold by anyone. Disposable 6000-flash cigars, which cost less and last longer than the legal 600-flash, are very attractive, even for older users. But they are only available on the black market, so of course that's where you buy them. " says Karl-Åke Johansson.
Calls for better legislation
The 'traditional' way for minors to obtain nicotine, in the form of snus and cigarettes, therefore does not apply to e-cigs, says Mr Johansson. According to him, politicians should approach the problem with caution.
"The solution does not lie in tougher legislation against the legal market, but should be handled with better import controls. At the same time, we should work for a more reasonable price structure, a simpler and faster regulatory framework for selling new products on the white market. In this way, the basis for organised smuggling can disappear. Younger people would then have to rely on adult friends who can stand up and "buy out", just like on the cigarette market. This would have been much easier to tackle with legislation", says Mr Perez. Karl-Åke Johansson.