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Netherlands and Belgium Tighten Rules: Netherlands Bans E-cigarettes with Flavors, Belgium Restricts Trade

JOYMY reported on Jan. 6 that while the Netherlands has banned e-cigarettes with flavors since the beginning of this year, it will allow them to be pulled from the market by October, according to a foreign news report. In Belgium, legislation on e-cigarettes will also be tightened soon.

Under the Dutch Tobacco and Tobacco Products Act, the sale of flavored e-cigarettes will be banned in the Netherlands as of Jan. 1, 2023. From now on, vape oils used in e-cigarettes may only taste like traditional tobacco.

However, to give Dutch e-cigarette retailers time to adjust, a transition period is provided: they will no longer be allowed to sell the new flavors, but will still be able to sell stock until October 1. From then on, e-cigarette flavors other than tobacco flavors will be completely banned in the country.

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The ban comes after a report by the Trimbos Institute showed that flavorings have increased the appeal of e-cigarettes, especially among young people. There is also growing evidence that e-cigarettes are a stepping stone to regular cigarettes.

What about Belgium?

Such a ban is not imminent in Belgium, and according to Felix Rijkers, a Belgian retailer who sells the e-cigarette product VapeBel, such a ban would not be a good thing either.

"If products suddenly become out of stock in Dutch stores, they will just look for stores that are still selling and shipping, for example from Germany or France. So your legislation completely defeats the purpose of it."

Such a ban on e-cigarette flavors is not imminent in Belgium, but Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke recently announced that the trade will soon be restricted as well.

"E-cigarettes contain about 1,800 different products, and we are far from knowing the health effects of all of them," He said. "Maybe some people will switch from regular cigarettes to e-cigarettes, but maybe by using e-cigarettes, people will just end up smoking regular cigarettes," he said.

Specifically, a royal decree will soon be issued imposing some additional conditions on the sale of flavored e-cigarettes in Belgium, Vandenbroucke said two weeks ago on VRT's Terzake news program. "These flavors will no longer be allowed to use trendy names."

Like the Netherlands, Belgium will have a transition period: the industry will have six months to adapt to the new rules. Retailers will be given another six months on top of that to sell their stock.

The legislation follows new recommendations from the High Commission on Health, which emphasize that e-cigarettes are less harmful than regular smoking, but also stress that health risks remain. While most of the flavors and fragrances in e-cigarettes have been approved for use in food, little is known about the effects of inhaling them.