Tobacco product challenges in the Netherlands

Founded in 2013 to support the choices of those who voluntarily choose to quit traditional cigarettes in favour of vaping, Acvoda (Actief Voor Dampen) has been at the forefront of the electronic cigarette movement in the Netherlands – but how is the situation progressing?

Known for promoting peer-reviewed studies and reliable sources of industry news and legislation, Acvoda has found itself at odds with the newly implemented Tobacco Product Directive (TPD) in recent months, due to the negative feedback from users regarding certain clauses of the regulations.

Realised by the EU parliament between 2014 and 2015, the TPD came into force on May 20 2016, imposing strict guidelines governing the way both traditional tobacco and vaping products are marketed and sold.

For vapers, these guidelines included limitations on the volume of e-liquid bottles available to purchase, as well as the maximum strength of the e-liquid itself. Restrictions have also been placed on the age of consumers who wish to acquire the products, as well as giving individual countries the option to impose additional policies on their citizens if they see fit, such as the banning of flavoured e-liquids.

 

Vaping proven healthier than tobacco

For Acvoda, the response from the vaping community in the Netherlands has been less than favourable, with unexpected complications stemming from the new laws – and these complications look set to get worse.

Those who opt for electronic over traditional cigarettes do so for many reasons, but the greatest motivator is health. While the Royal College of Physicians in the UK has found that vaping is at least 95% healthier than smoking, it is only effective if the e-cig is capable of satisfying the craving the smoker seeks. Acvoda has found that limiting the strength of e-liquid can often lead to a relapse towards traditional cigarettes, in order for the user to get their desired ‘hit’.

Other emerging issues include the usefulness of the age restriction parameters. For many born in the 20th century, gaining access to traditional cigarettes was never a difficult process. And while the number of people who start smoking in their teens has dropped dramatically in recent decades, there is nevertheless a large number of individuals under the age of 18 who smoke. Is it really wise to limit their access to a product that is proven to be safer than their current habit?

 

Professionally produced e-liquids are safer

Even more interesting is the failure of the TPD to understand the resourcefulness of the average human being. As with prohibition in the US in the early 20th century and the outlawing of various drugs over the last century, the imposition of sanctions against those who wish to have access to certain products has always led to a deviant sub-culture of production.

Due to the simplicity of the e-liquid recipe, many vapers are beginning to mix their own e-liquid at home in larger amounts, but without adhering to the health regulations used by professionals, leading to a greater chance of physical harm. So will the World Health Organisation (WHO) and various state governments acknowledge these issues and make changes accordingly?

For now, it’s unclear – but Muriel Schipper, chairperson of Acvoda, believes that allowing politicians rather than health professionals to publish laws regarding e-cigarettes that lead to black market sales is “not something we would like to see, since there is no control of hygiene and such, and if people don’t know what they are doing or are underestimating the dangers when mixing high nicotine concentrations, this might lead to accidental poisonings and more unwanted negative publicity about vaping.”

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