Moving Backward

If enacted, Spain’s proposed regulations on vaping products will hamper tobacco harm reduction.

By Stefanie Rossel

In mid-May, a shockwave hit Spain’s vaping industry: The government presented a bill that would end the independent domestic vaping sector. The proposal calls for limiting vapor product sales to state-owned tobacconist shops within five years. Specialized vape shops can stay in business only if they transition into licensed tobacconists—a step that would oblige them to sell combustible products as well. The bill would also ban online sales of vape products.

At a recent conference, Angeles Muntadas-Prim Lafita, chair of the Spanish Association Supporting Vapers (ANESVAP) explained that the proposed legislation means the government wants to monopolize the nicotine market. “A country that is a member state of the European common market wants to monopolize a free and independent market. That’s like going back to a time when Spain wasn’t even a democracy—or even to the Spanish Inquisition,” she said.

Muntadas-Prim Lafita considered it unlikely that vape shop owners would sell combustibles. Established tobacconist shops, on the other hand, might or might not sell vaping products under the planned rules. “This would be harmful for consumers who would be forced to go to a tobacconist to get their vape products—or as many as they could find because it would be up to the tobacconist to decide what he is going to sell,” she said. “In addition, smokers who use vaping to quit more hazardous products might be tempted to purchase combustibles again. It’s like forcing an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting to be held in a liquor store.”

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Vaping can save 200 million lives and flavours play a key role in helping smokers quit. However, policymakers want to limit or ban flavours, putting our effort to end smoking-related deaths in jeopardy.

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