Since 1 January, shops in the Netherlands have been prohibited from selling e-cigarettes that do not taste of tobacco and smoke essence. The aim was to prevent young people from trying e-cigs, but the ban seems to have other consequences.
"It's really not a good flavour, I'd rather get regular cigarettes," a young man told the media outlet. NH News in a report on the new ban.
The Dutch flavour ban on e-cigarettes came into force on 1 January. Roadside shops have had a year to clear their shelves of almost 90% of all e-juices. At the same time, in convenience stores and tobacconists where e-cigarettes have become the most popular. This is particularly true for single-use models, the product category that has attracted the most young people to test e-cigarettes.
The newspaper NH News went to the town of Hilversumse to ask young people how they felt about the new ban.
"It doesn't matter if they are in the shops or not. Most people buy their vejps via Snapchat," a young woman tells us. NH News reporter.
The ban was met with resistance
The Dutch flavour ban was preceded by a strong campaign focusing on the use of e-cigarettes by young people. According to the government, several user organisations, but also entrepreneurs, tried in vain to persuade Dutch politicians to rethink the issue.
"As we see it, young people are not buying e-cigarettes on the open market. They get them through social media, but also from rogue traders in convenience stores. And it's not us saying this, it's the police. Organised criminals and dealers do not care about flavour bans or age limits," Karl-Åke Johansson told Vejpkollen ahead of the decision to ban flavourings.
Will taste like rotten wood
The flavour ban in the Netherlands is different from similar bans that have appeared in other parts of the world. Instead of banning everything except so-called tobacco flavours, it will only a few flavourings be authorised. These must be neither too sweet nor "appealing" and must remind the user of some kind of tobacco. A stable investigation has named 16 flavourings as suitable. The vast majority give notes of "wet hay" "rotting wood" and "burnt caramel" in the e-liquid and some of them are already used in some so-called "tobacco flavours".
"Rather buy cigarettes"
The "new" flavours do not seem to attract the young people NH Nieuws talks to. However, the ban seems to have other consequences.
"I really don't like tobacco flavours. If the e-cig doesn't taste any different, I'd rather buy cigarettes instead," a younger man said to NH News.
Favours cigarette sales
At present, smokers 20 per cent of the population in the Netherlands. At the same time, the government has chosen to take a very hard line on alternative nicotine products in order to take further action to reduce smoking. According to the government, vejping can lead to young people taking up smoking. However, no such link has been proven and, according to several critics, the flavour ban will only benefit cigarette sales. These fears are confirmed by Adam Hancerwho runs a tobacco shop in Hilversumse.
"One-off models are popular with customers. But let's see what happens now. Overnight, I lose 50 per cent of the revenue on the products," he tells us. NH News.
He now suspects that cigarette sales are overtaking e-cig sales.
"Margins have been good for e-cigarettes, but they are likely to disappear now. I suspect that cigarettes will sell better, which is a shame because the margins are worse," he told us. NH News adding that the black market for e-cigarettes will already take over completely because of the ban.
Authorises only cigarettes
Just last year, the Dutch government also chose to completely ban all of the sales of nicotine pouches in the country. Snus has long been banned under EU law. Cigarettes, whose use leads to the premature death of every second user, are still fully authorised for sale in the country. The age limit is 18 years.