"Increase the age limit and make sure that products can only be sent to the address of record for online purchases."
This is according to vape shop owner David Vilja, who believes that laws need to be tightened to address the increasing use of e-cigarettes among young people today.
Single-use cigarettes have become very popular, especially since they have joined cigarettes and snus on the shelves of convenience stores and petrol stations. Single-use models have also exploded in popularity in vape shops, stores that primarily sell e-cigarettes. David Vilja, CEO of Vapify, which operates three vape shops in Stockholm, believes that this development has both advantages and disadvantages for the industry.
"The market is now very big, which I think helps the industry as a whole to expand. Disposable models are a very good way for many smokers to start using e-cigarettes in a very simple way. At the same time, it is a double-edged sword. We see more and more minors using the products, which in turn can hurt the industry", says David Vilja.
"Easier to use e-cigs today"
According to CAN's latest report on nicotine use in Sweden, the proportion of people who have used e-cigarettes in the last 30 days has increased across the population. From 2 per cent in 2021 to 4 per cent in 2022. 1 per cent of these are daily users. The largest increase can be seen in the age group 17-29 years, where 14 per cent used e-cigarettes, compared with only 4 per cent in 2017-2021.
David Vilja says that use among the very young is problematic, and that accessibility plays a major role.
"In the past, it was quite cumbersome for a minor to use e-cigarettes. Not only did you have to buy an e-cigarette, you also had to buy the e-juice and burner separately, learn how to refill it and change the parts from time to time. Nowadays it is so much easier to get and use e-cigarettes."
"Raise the age limit"
He argues that legislation needs to be broadened to deal with the problems that will inevitably arise. At present, it is forbidden to advertise e-cigarettes online and on social media, an 18-year age limit applies and municipalities are responsible for supervising physical stores.
"But there is much more that could be done. I strongly believe in raising the age limit. 18 years is not a good limit today, because high school students can very easily get an older friend to deal for them. It's too easy a process today", says David Vilja.
Not just age checks
He believes that online sales also need to be better regulated, not least by tightening the rules on how age checks work in practice.
"There are pros and cons to allowing these products to be sold online. Compared to a physical store, it is much more difficult to check whether a person is really old enough to buy the products when the purchase is made online. A good start is to ensure that it is only possible to send the products to the registered address, we already do this in our webshop and I would like to see it everywhere" says David Vilja.
Crimes should have consequences
According to David Vilja, it is also important for the authorities to work better with the companies operating in the sector.
"They need to make sure that those who are importing e-cigarettes and selling them actually behave and follow the laws that are in place. I feel that not everyone is doing that today. There should be consequences for breaking the rules and the business should be penalised", says David Vilja to Vejpkollen.