Across the Netherlands, there will be a ban on the production of flavoured e-cigarettes from July 1st, and their sale from October 1st as the Dutch government joins six other European countries banning flavoured e-cigarettes and e-liquids. As a result, vape shops across the country are expecting a crisis, with many anticipating closure.
The amendment to the ‘Tobacco and smoking regulations’ will allow the selling of remaining e-liquid stock until October 1st 2023, giving businesses 3 months to be rid of their products.
Writing to the House of Representatives, State Secretary Paul Blokhuis suggests that the ban will discourage young people from smoking from a vape pen. E-liquids outside of the 16 officially designated flavours authorised by the Government will no longer be allowed to be sold.
This could spell the death blow for vape shops throughout the country. “I would say that, from the liquids that are still going to be available, we are not going to be able to keep the store running,” said Rick Enninga, who works at a vape shop called Pure Smoke in Groningen. “In the rest of the Netherlands, if it’s going to be like that, I think every vape shop will close its doors,” he continues.
The importance of Flavour
A result of provisions included in the National Prevention Agreement dictating the desire for a healthier populace, the Dutch government set out the goal of a smoke-free generation by 2040. With the belief that e-cigarettes are a stepping stone to actual cigarettes, stringent measures were pushed for by Blokhuis.
Jador de Vries, a 21 year old from Leeuwarden, has been vaping for nearly 2 years, before moving on to cigarettes.
He agrees with the government’s sentiment that vape liquid flavours make it more attractive for young people to smoke, and can lead to people moving on to cigarettes. Even still, he stated the following regarding the new regulation: “Worthless, I think many more people will switch over to smoking cigarettes instead.”
However, according to the Independent European Vape Alliance, the variety of flavours is one of the most important reasons that cigarette smokers quit, and exclusively smoke from e-liquids. Without this incentive, getting rid of flavoured e-cigarettes could lead to many actually returning to the practice.
There is also the notion that the new legislation could drive people to alternative methods of obtaining flavoured vape liquids.
“If vapes liquids get banned, people might create their own e-liquids with higher risk. Or they will look into the black market,” said Enninga, who along with four other employees of Pure Smoke, may be forced to look for alternative employment.
De Vries also notes, “If I do continue vaping, I will just get my vape liquids from Poland or England.”
Like many other vilified industries, prohibition may lead to people sourcing products from illicit markets, or from other countries. Germany or Belgium, where flavoured E-liquids remain legal, may become sites for Dutch vapers to purchase their product.
A Health Benefit
Could the new provision benefit the goal of a smoke-free society, however? The Center for Disease Control and Prevention advise that e-cigarettes do encourage young people to smoke later in life, and that e-cigarettes themselves are harmful to the development of adolescent brains.
With this being the case, says Enninga, there must be other ways to solve the problem. “Look for other solutions. At least give us the choice to vape or smoke cigarettes, maybe give licences to specialised shops. Don’t let the night shops or tobacco stores sell vape equipment, that way we can check on age and get rid of the disposables.”
As it stands, for the workers who have invested years of their lives into building a successful vaping business, the next few months spell doom. Anja Ottema, a co-worker of Enninga, does not know how the shop can stay open with these rules in place.
“We still hope for a miracle,” she says.