Unnecessary and counterproductive vaping regulation must be stopped

The Dutch government has announced more plans that are bound to hurt vapers and those who want to quit smoking. Their latest proposal involves treating vaping exactly like tobacco, and imposing a plain packaging requirement on e-cigarettes. That means that those ugly brown and plain packages could be coming to a vaping product near you, if you live in the Netherlands.

Both the World Vapers Alliance and myself have been long advocating for accurate and fact based information about vaping. Putting it in the same basket as any other tobacco product, may just make many people who are trying to quit smoking by vaping think that there is no difference between the products – even though vaping is 95% less harmful than cigarettes. This would be a mistake.

Yet, we can still do something. We contributed as World Vapers’ Alliance to the public consultation the Dutch government has launched on this topic. You can see our arguments below.

If you want to help, you still have time. The consultation is open until the end of Friday, 18 September.



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Dear ladies and gentlemen, 

The plans to put combustible and non-combustible tobacco products, together with e-cigarettes, in the same regulatory category – including a plain packaging requirement – are of great concern to the World Vapers’ Alliance and the thousands of vapers it represents. 

Making vaping less appealing to smokers will discourage current smokers from switching to less harmful alternatives. It is reasonable to assume that restrictions on packaging which would make it harder for current smokers to obtain information about vaping, will lower the probability of current smokers to switch to a less harmful alternative such as vaping.

Consequently, this will have a detrimental effect on public health in the Netherlands. It is worrying that a country like the Netherlands, famed for its pragmatism, is taking such a heavy handed approach towards vaping. 

E-cigarettes contain liquid which is heated and turned into vapour. There is no tobacco nor tar in e-cigarettes and many of the toxins in cigarettes are not present in e-cigarettes. So, they should not be treated like traditional tobacco products. In 2015, Public Health England declared that vaping is 95% less harmful than smoking and began recommending that current smokers switch to electronic cigarettes. Countries like Canada and New Zealand followed their lead. Those countries were able to lower their smoking rates faster than countries which followed a more restrictive approach to vaping. The authors of this US study come to the conclusion that “the proportion of daily smokers among past 30-day smokers, also decreased more rapidly as vaping became more prevalent.”

We know that an increased price on vaping products leads to higher smoking rates. Banning flavours would also have a detrimental effect. Flavours are an essential part of how smokers switch and stay away from cigarettes. Two-thirds of current vapers are using some form of flavoured liquids and researchers at Yale concluded that vapers who use flavours are 230% more likely to quit smoking than those using tobacco flavoured e-cigarettes.

Policies promoting vaping have arguably achieved more in a short period of time than what lawmakers tried to accomplish for years: fewer people smoking cigarettes. Therefore, we urge lawmakers to move against the widespread implementation of plain packaging and flavour bans.

Michael Landl 

World Vapers’ Alliance