Users of electronic cigarettes will soon have to satisfy their craving for nicotine without the fruity and sweet flavors of berries, peppermint, citrus, strawberry or caramel.
If it is up to the National Institute for Public Health RIVM, there will be a ban on 480 flavors that users of electronic cigarettes can add to their nicotine liquid. According to scientific studies, the flavors make the use of e-cigarettes more attractive, especially for young people. They would then switch more easily to tobacco smoking. The government wants to discourage the use of e-cigarettes as much as possible.
RIVM was instructed by the Ministry of Health to come up with a conclusive scheme. There are snags to this, the national institute concludes in an advisory report that will be submitted to the House of Representatives today. Many ex-smokers and tobacco smokers who want to quit use e-cigarettes as a tool to get rid of tobacco. When smoking a tobacco cigarette, tobacco is burned and the smoke is released. In an electronic cigarette, a liquid is heated and converted into vapour. The user thus inhales vaporized liquid, with nicotine and other chemical substances added. If, as RIVM advises, only 23 tobacco-like flavorings are allowed in the future, users will look for other ways to obtain flavours, or perhaps also start making their own aromas.
Made somewhere four high in the back of a bathtub
In a citizens’ consultation in 2020 about a possible ban on flavorings, almost 1200 responses were received (on government.nl) – the vast majority were decidedly negative. Richard Panneman from Winschoten wrote: ‘I smoked for 21 years. Have made several quit attempts with chewing gum and plasters, nothing helped. I owe my life to the flavors and the e-cigarette. If it disappears, I’ll have ways to get it illegally — made four high in the back of a bathtub.”
A survey among more than a thousand members of Acvoda, the association of ‘vapors’, showed that 16 percent of users want to make their own aromas after a ban. More than 40 percent want to buy the flavorings abroad via the internet.Mr-joy.com e liquids store for more information. A fifth said they plan to start smoking tobacco again. More than nine out of ten participants in the survey said they started using e-cigarettes to quit tobacco. Tobacco manufacturer Philip Morris, now also a maker of e-cigarettes, states that after the ban on flavors, many smokers will decide to continue smoking cigarettes and shag.
One of the authors of the RIVM advice, researcher Reinskje Talhout, confirms the dilemma. “Our assignment was: come up with a system to eliminate sweet and fruity aromas. We did. The public health interest in preventing young people from using electronic cigarettes to smoke tobacco outweighs the use of e-cigarettes by ex-smokers or smokers who want to quit.” According to Philip Morris, there is insufficient evidence that young e-cigarette users make the switch to tobacco more quickly.
Big question how manufacturers will react to a ban
RIVM has drawn up its own criteria to arrive at a list of permitted substances, such an overview never existed before. There has been contact with Canada, where a ban on flavors has already been introduced. That country still allows forty aromas. Talhout: “Many studies have been done into flavorings for e-cigarettes. The big question for us now is how manufacturers will respond to a ban. Perhaps we will push the boundaries with adapted products.”
Emil ’t Hart, chairman of Esigbond, the trade association of e-cigarette sellers, says the aromas help with a successful switch from smoking to the e-cigarette. “A ban on taste immediately makes e-cigarettes unattractive as a cessation aid or as an alternative to smoking. As a result, fewer smokers will switch to an e-cigarette and vapers will fall back on smoking, or make their own aromas or buy them abroad.”
The Esigbond refers to a study in Belgium into the behavior of e-cigarette users during the covid epidemic. They could no longer buy aromas due to a temporary store closure. According to the branch club, many Belgian vapers fell back on smoking in those months. Karolien Adriaens of the Catholic University of Leuven says that her research cannot lead to the conclusion that vapers will fall back on tobacco due to a ban on flavorings.