Eastern Europe Moves Towards Vape Prohibition Despite Success Rates in Russia

Poland is moving forward with setting vape restrictions in alignment with new European Union (EU) directives aimed at novel tobacco products. The legislation was recently unveiled by Dariusz Poznański, director of the Polish Health Ministry’s Department of Public Health, and it aims to comply with the EU’s June 29, 2022 directive, focusing on eliminating flavours in novel heated tobacco products. While a seperate measure would ban disposable vapes.

The proposed law would also grant the head of the Bureau of Chemical Substances authority to demand additional testing or information from manufacturers and importers of these products. This would ensure a thorough assessment of their market impact and health implications.

In parallel, a separate proposal is being developed explicitly for a vape ban. Collaboration between the Ministry of Health, the Prime Minister’s Office, and the Ministry of Finance is underway to create comprehensive regulations. The enforcement measures for illegal product distribution may include fines of up to PLN 200,000 (EUR 46,350, USD 500) or criminal penalties.

Slovenia approves flavour ban

Limiting access to vaping for former smokers and those attempting to quit, when local smoking rates remain a high 20%, is not very smart.

Similarly, the Parliamentary Committee on Health in Slovenia recently approved amendments targeting tobacco-related products, particularly vapes, by prohibiting all flavours except tobacco. Despite scientific evidence indicating vaping is significantly less harmful than smoking, the committee deemed the two equally harmful.

The World Vapers’ Alliance (WVA) criticized Slovenia’s move, emphasizing the crucial role flavours play in smoking cessation, with research showing adults using vaping flavours being 230% more likely to quit successfully. The Slovenian Vapers Association also condemned the amendments, labeling them harmful, unethical, immoral, and discriminatory, as they limit access to vaping for former smokers and those attempting to quit, while Slovenia’s smoking rates remain high at 20%.

The Alliance urged policymakers to reconsider the restrictions, highlighting the potential public health benefits of vaping and advocating for a progressive harm reduction approach to support adult smokers in cessation efforts and reduce smoking-related illnesses.

Increased vape sales lead to decreased cigarette sales

Infact, data released last August by the Russian Federal State Statistics Service (Rosstat), indicated a sharp drop in cigarette sales as smokers are shifting to vapes and heated tobacco products in large numbers. Data from Saint Petersburg, has revealed an average year-on-year decline of 47% from January to June 2023. In the same period last year, the average number of cigarettes sold per person per month in Saint Petersburg was 133, while this year it was 70. 

Polina Vilichkina, leader of data company “Evotor,” pointed out that this decrease in cigarette sales was brought about by a shift to novel nicotine products such as vapes and snus, while some economists have attributed this drop to more people buying cigarettes on the grey market given a decrease in people’s income. However, one cannot ignore that a similar trend in decreased cigarette sales has been observed in every country where the use of novel nicotine products has become popular.

Vape Restrictions Spreading Across Eastern Europe

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