In prohibitionist Finland: Children recruited to sell e-cigarettes

The black market for disposable vejps and other e-cigarettes is growing rapidly in Finland. Despite stringent legislation on flavours and age limits, use among young people is skyrocketing.
"Primary school children are recruited by gangs to sell to their friends," reports YLE newspaper. 

In the shadow of both flavour ban and ban on selling e-cigarettes A black market for e-cigarettes is growing online. And this is particularly true among young people under 18. In a series of articles YLE magazine have noticed that minors are acquiring vejp products through social media or through friends at school. According to the police, the sales are often based on some form of organised crime. They say that threats and violence surrounding sales are common.
- Extortion, robbery and threats related to trade are the most unpleasant mild phenomena. For example, a young person may be threatened with assault if he does not hand over his property," says Chief Constable Toni Reinikainen to YLE newspaper.

Many bans on e-cigs

As Vejpkollen previously reported, Finland has some of the most Europe's toughest legislation For example, e-cigarettes and e-liquid cannot be flavoured with anything other than tobacco flavours. All e-liquid is taxed, including unflavoured e-liquid - i.e. glycerine and propylene glycol (at least if sold in a shop that also sells vejp products). Online sales are banned and the products still available on the open market are regulated by an age limit (18 years) and a licence to sell. At present, few everyday shops sell e-cigarettes. The exception is the tobacco company Phillip Morris' own e-cigarette, a variant that tastes only of tobacco.

Young vejpar anyway

However, the legislation in place since 2018 does not seem to have significantly affected the use of e-cigarettes among adults. Today, as in 2018, it is close to one per cent. According to Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare in contrast, the use of e-cigarettes among young people aged 14-20 has doubled in Finland in the last two years. Six per cent of boys and five per cent of girls use e-cigarettes daily. At the same time, smoking has decreased among people aged 14-20. Six per cent of boys and four per cent of girls smoke daily.

Honoured by the WHO

WHO highlighted Finland's tough legislation in 2020According to the WHO Tobacco Convention, smoking (but according to some interest groups also vejp and snus use) must fall below 5 per cent to achieve the Convention's endgame. Today, 12% of men and 11% of women smoke. in Finland daily (the corresponding figures in Sweden are 4 and 6 per cent).

The number of tobacco offences has increased

Despite the tough legislation, vejping has become a phenomenon among young people, according to the Finnish police. And it accelerated even more during the summer and autumn.

"This year, some 50 cases have been reported to the police in Inner Finland, but the official figure is marginal compared to the scale of the phenomenon. The number of tobacco-related offences has increased recently," says Crime Commissioner Markus Antila to the YLE newspaper.

He notes that young people are buying vape products and nicotine liquids online and reselling them to other minors at many times the price.

Liberalisation reduced smuggling

While the black market for e-cigarettes is growing, it is shrinking. white snuff, nicotine pouches. This is after the previously illegal products will now be regulated under tobacco laws. The Finnish government justified the decision by saying that it wants to tackle the illegal trade and use among young people through taxation and regulation. How possible flavour bans and taxes will affect that market is still unclear.

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