The Dutch Government has opened a public consultation on the final stage of a proposal to ban vaping liquid flavours in the country by proposing an amendment to the Tobacco and Smoking Products Order. The consultation will run until 28 September and can be accessed at this link.
This proposal goes further than any flavour ban seen in other countries. The National Institute for Public Health and Environment (RIVM) and Ministry of Health have set out a list of 16 'approved' substances which can be used to make tobacco flavoured e-liquids. This effectively means a de facto ban on all e-liquids. All current e-liquids on the market, including tobacco flavours, would be prohibited and new flavours would have to be developed using only the 16 approved substances. Dutch vaping advocates have investigated the likely outcome and found that this would make it impossible for manufacturers to formulate any flavours at all and would effectively signal the end of the legal vaping market in the Netherlands. Consequently, it would also set a very dangerous precedent for the rest of the EU.
Although we currently have sensible regulations on flavours in the UK, a revision of the EU Tobacco Products Directive is upcoming and developments in the Netherlands could have an impact on its drafting. It is true that the UK has now left the EU but as we have emphasised before, politicians are influenced by what happens in other countries and it may put pressure on UK lawmakers to follow suit. It is also worth remembering the words of Clive Bates in a webinar we held in June 2020.
I would not count on [UK authorities] choosing [vaping] to be a particular hill to die on for divergence from EU regulations. I would not be complacent about this; you have a huge superpower on the doorstep. If [the EU is] going to go negative on this, it’s going to affect the whole world and the whole region including the UK. It’s our fight in the UK, not just for international reasons, although it is that as well, but also for UK reasons.
The NNA will be making a submission to the consultation, and we would urge our supporters to consider adding their own. Also, please encourage others on social media to do the same using the hashtag #smaaknoodzaak. Over 650 submissions have been registered so far which can be viewed here. To help with the process, European Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates (ETHRA) has produced an excellent guide on how to submit a response in just a few simple steps which you can read here.
Just to reiterate, the closing date is Wednesday 28 September so please act now and beat the deadline.