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Our articles are expertly written by humans with first-hand experience
April 12, 2024
3 min to read

Spain Launches Flavor Ban Consultation

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Jim McDonald

The Spanish government plans to prohibit flavored vaping products as part of sweeping changes to the country’s tobacco control laws included in the “Comprehensive Tobacco Prevention Plan 2024-2027” announced last week. The plan, which will be presented as legislation soon, will also include plain packaging, new taxes on tobacco products, and added restrictions on public use.

Spain is an influential European Union member state. With over 47 million residents, it is the fourth-most populous EU country, after Germany, France and Italy. It’s also the bloc's fourth-largest economy. Adoption of flavor restrictions by Spain could dangerously influence the direction of EU flavored vape policy, which will be part of the updated Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) that will likely be rolled out next year.

The consultation ends April 23

The Ministry of Health has launched a very time-limited consultation (15 days) to gather public opinion on parts of the plan, including the flavor ban. From my U.S. location, I was only able to see the health ministry's website using a VPN, where I found the press release announcing the consultation, which reproduced most of the information found in the official consultation document (which I saw elsewhere and have no way to link to) in both Spanish and English. Comments are sent by email to consultapublicatabaquismo@sanidad.gob.es.

Comments on the consultation will only be accepted until April 23. It’s crucial that Spanish vaping and harm reduction advocates spread the word quickly. It’s clear the health ministry is hoping to reduce participation by providing such a brief reply period.

The document itself is vague. The listed objective of the proposed amendment to the royal decree on tobacco is to “introduce a number of measures,” and lists:

  • “Improvements in the labelling and packaging of tobacco products through the introduction of plain packaging,”
  • “Improvements in the proper labelling of emerging tobacco and tobacco-related products,” and
  • “Prohibition of additives and flavouring components in tobacco and related products which distort the objectives of the health regulation or which may be more appealing to consumers.”

Spain needs flavored vapes

Spain has more than a half-million vapers, according to Knowledge-Action-Change’s recently updated Global State of Harm Reduction report. That’s just 1.3 percent of the adult population—a relatively low percentage, only about one-quarter France’s vaping rate. However, Spain’s smoking rate is fairly high, with almost 28 percent of the adult population—more than 11 million people—using cigarettes. More than 57,000 people in Spain die from smoking-related disease annually.

Spain needs flavored vaping products, which are generally more effective as a switching tool for smokers. Most adult vapers who have stopped smoking completely prefer non-tobacco flavors.

Eight European countries have passed laws prohibiting vape flavors: Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Lithuaniathe NetherlandsSlovenia and Ukraine. Among that group, all are EU members except Ukraine. No European country has passed an outright vape ban.

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Jim McDonald

Vaping since: 12 years

Favorite products:

Favorite flavors: RY4-style tobaccos, fruits

Expertise in: Political and legal challenges, tobacco control haters, moral panics

Jim McDonald

Smokers created vaping without help from the tobacco industry or anti-smoking crusaders, and I believe vapers have the right to continue innovating to help themselves. My goal is to provide clear, honest information about the challenges vaping faces from lawmakers, regulators, and brokers of disinformation. I’m a member of the CASAA board, but my opinions aren’t necessarily CASAA’s, and vice versa. You can find me on Twitter @whycherrywhy

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