Vaping across the world: What’s going on in the global vape industry?

The vape industry has always moved fast, and there’s been a lot happening recently. From regulation changes and flavour bans to the revelation that Emanuel Macron is a vaper, here’s your round up of latest news. 

Dutch postpone flavour ban until next year

Last May, the Dutch Cabinet Council of Ministers approved a flavour ban, allowing only tobacco-flavoured vaping products to be sold in the Netherlands. The law was scheduled to be implemented on the 1st of July, but it’s now been delayed by six months.

The postponement of the ban is due to an issue with the list of approved e-liquid ingredients, put forward by the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM). The list, based on Health Canada’s ahead of their own proposed flavour ban, included two flavourings ‑ isophorone and pyridine. They’re both known to be carcinogenic, meaning they’re substances that cause cancer.

Esigbond, the Dutch trade association for e-cigarette manufacturers and retailers, pointed out the issue to the Government. The RIVM must now reconsider the list of approved flavourings before the ban can go ahead.

In response to the postponement, Esigbond announced the news and said: “The authorities put carcinogenic substances on the list of ingredients of e-liquids that would apply after the ban. We warned the Ministry. The policy is poorly designed due to a lack of knowledge.” 

Esigbond’s chairman, Emil ‘t Hart, went on to say: “We have offered to help the government think about a practical policy on e-cigarettes in the past because of our extensive knowledge. This mistake could easily have been avoided if the government had talked to us.”

Whilst no European country has a full ban on all vaping products, more are considering or have already passed flavour restrictions. The Netherlands will be joining Estonia, Finland, Hungary and Ukraine, who all have flavour restrictions in effect. Denmark’s flavour ban began on the 1st of April, with Lithuania set to join the list in July as Sweden continue to debate the issue. 

New synthetic nicotine law adds to existing e-liquid ban in the US

A spending bill, which includes granting the FDA authority over synthetic nicotine, has been passed in the US. The new law comes into effect from April 14th. 

President Biden signed the spending bill into law on March 15th. Products containing synthetic nicotine, such as nic salt e-liquids, will now follow the same FDA rules as tobacco-derived nicotine products. 

Manufacturers have until May 14th to submit Premarket Tobacco Applications (PMTAs) for existing synthetic nicotine products. If they don’t receive authorisation from the FDA within 60 days, they must remove their products from the market or be subject to enforcement.

In response to the FDA’s mass-rejection of PMTAs for flavoured vape products last year, thousands of synthetic nicotine products were launched by small e-liquid manufacturers in order to avoid the blanket ban. 

Now that it includes synthetic nicotine, it’s likely that most of these will also be removed from the market as it’s becoming more difficult to prove that their products are “appropriate for the protection of public health”. Sadly, it’s likely that many independent businesses will be forced to close rather than continuing to fight against a system dedicated to working against them. 

Italy has reduced its tax on e-liquids

In better news, Italy reduced its tax on e-liquids on the 1st of April. This is the fourth time the country has adjusted the tax in as many years, but this time it favours vapers. 

The tax rate on vape juice containing nicotine has been decreased from €0.175 per millilitre to €0.13, whilst the tax on nicotine-free e-liquids has dropped from €0.13/ml to €0.08. Italian vapers have faced a price rollercoaster in recent years, with the Government changing the tax on e-liquids in virtually every annual budget. 

In 2014, 75% of the country’s vape shops were wiped out after the tax rose to €0.40/ml, making vaping as expensive as smoking cigarettes. This was, at the time, the highest rate in the European Union and it almost doubled the price of e-liquid overnight. Many vapers were forced to find unregulated and potentially dangerous products on the black market, whilst others simply switched back to smoking. 

Whilst this is great news for Italy’s vapers, they’re still heavily impacted by a 22% VAT added onto all vaping products. That, coupled with the additional €0.13/ml tax, takes the average price of a 10ml e-liquid in Italy to €8. 

French President Emmanuel Macron joins the list of famous faces that vape

Vapers were raving last month after a photo emerged showing Emmanuel Macron holding a vape device as he headed into his office. The photo, apparently taken by Macron’s official photographer, was retweeted thousands of times on Twitter. 

A debate ensued as to whether this would lead to a more positive approach to vaping in France, though Macron has a history of doing very little to correct public misconceptions surrounding vaping.

Writing in his blog Vapolitique, Phillipe Poirson stated: “We don’t know how long Emmanuel Macron has been vaping. However, Macron’s five-year term ends with a poor record regarding the political framework of the most popular and effective means of reducing risks in the face of smoking.”

The country has, however, avoided major negative vaping policies, including the fact that they have no additional tax on vape products and it hasn’t yet proposed a flavour ban. Phillipe Poirson believes that Macron’s visible vape was a deliberate attempt to gain support from French vapers ahead of the country’s upcoming election. 

Whether or not it was planned, a photo of such an influential leader could still have positive effects. Seeing Macron vaping might help promote vaping as a safer alternative to smoking, and it could be a sign of more vape-positive policies coming in the future.

It may also lead to no changes whatsoever, and simply amount to a short-term viral tweet. But, if more smokers decide to try vaping after seeing it, then that’s got to be a good thing. 

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