In a clear rebuke to tobacco control orthodoxy, the Swedish parliament (Riksdag) today rejected a proposed ban on sales of flavored vaping products. The final vote was 177-126 with 46 abstaining.
The proposal to ban flavors was introduced in late February by the government’s Ministry of Social Affairs. If passed, the law would have taken effect next January, and would have prohibited flavors other than tobacco in all e-liquid, including zero-nicotine vape juice.
The vote wasn’t a complete surprise. A week ago, the Riksdag’s Social Affairs Committee recommended adopting most of the bill—which also adds regulations for nicotine pouches and synthetic nicotine—but eliminating the flavor prohibition. The full Riksdag today agreed with the committee.
“We want a harm reduction perspective embedded in our national tobacco policy,” a conservative committee member told Swedish vaping site Vejpkollen. “Limiting flavors in an alternative product, which can reduce the proportion of smokers, is not in line with this.”
Sweden already has the lowest percentage of regular smokers in Europe, due to the longtime popularity of snus—pasteurized oral tobacco—which has been proven through extensive epidemiological research to have no measurable health harms.
Seven other European countries have passed bans on non-tobacco vape flavors. In Denmark, Estonia, Finland and Hungary, flavored vape restrictions are currently in place. Lithuania’s flavor ban will take effect July 1. In the Netherlands, the flavor prohibition scheduled to begin in July has been postponed until January 2023. Ukraine’s flavor ban starts in July 2023. No European country has an outright ban on all vaping products.