There’s a fascinating paradox regarding elections and political participation in democracy. Whenever the government is perceived to be doing a good job, working in favour of citizens and exerting its attributions with professionalism, very few people from outside the political spectrum get involved. Election turnout and activism is low when politicians are doing their job.
But the opposite applies when governments make mistakes, misunderstand their role or propose policy that does not connect, or worse, that goes against the public’s best interest. Those are the times we see high voter turnout, those are the times people react and take action.
I see this as the main explanation for what just happened in the Netherlands with the consultation on banning flavours of e-cigarettes. This consultation has seen the largest ever pool of responses in the history of public health consultation in the Netherlands. Over 1050 submissions had been recorded on the official website before the closing of the consultation on 2 February. The consultation period was extended by two weeks after enormous pressure from citizens made the government understand that they cannot get away with sweeping this issue under the carpet.
The proposal to ban flavoured vaping in the country elicited a response from people because it is an ill-thought, simply bad solution to a non existent problem. I have spoken at lengths about the issue here, and the WVA, together with our partners at the Consumer Choice Center has some great resources about flavours.
It was our responsibility as the association representing vapers worldwide to take a clear position on the proposed regulation – you can read our consultation submission below:
In the Netherlands, 3.1% of adults vape. Any policy advocating for bans, particularly on flavours, is bound to discourage people from switching from smoking to vaping and it would put nearly 260,000 Dutch vapers at risk of returning to smoking. Flavours are essential as they make a smoker more than twice as likely to switch to vaping. Taking this away will only encourage vapers to return to smoking or discourage smokers from quitting.
Sounds scientific evidence backs our data, and beyond that, from all the consultations submissions an astonishing 98% agree that the ban is a terrible proposal and should be struck.
Thanks to all of you who have submitted your point of view on this consultation, we will continue to fight for our right to vape, a right that is more important than any petty vendetta a politician can have against millions of vapers everywhere.