Tobacco Harm Reduction is a term for a public health strategy that is all about minimising the negative impact that smoking has on a persons health. There are many THR groups spread around the world, all with the same goal in mind to eliminate the harm caused by tobacco, whilst advocating safer alternatives such as E-Cigarettes.
However, there has been a massive dent put into the efforts of a THR group based in Germany courtesy of a new proposal being put forward by the German Medical Association to ban all flavours of vape juice in the country of Germany in what they are calling “a necessary move to prevent Nicotine addiction”
In this article, I’m going to look at the statement and proposal made the GMA, and what the response has been by the BVRA, a Tobacco Harm Reduction group based in Germany focused on promoting the use of E-Cigarettes and Vape Juice as a safer alternative to smoking.
The German Medical Association makes the call to ban flavoured vape juice
In 2022, The Tobacco Products Act and Tobacco Products Ordinance received an amendment to it which planned to eliminate the flavour options currently available for Heated Tobacco Products (HTPs) in a bid to prevent Nicotine addiction from happening, and to make them less appealing to specific potential target audiences.
As far as I can see, this is actually going to be going ahead at some point this year. If you didn’t already know, Heated Tobacco Products are different to E-Cigarettes, as they contain and use actual tobacco leaves, but instead of burning the tobacco like a conventional cigarette, the tobacco is heated, which eliminates the risk of carcinogens being formed that are usual found in lit cigarettes.
And now fast forward to January of this year, and the German Medical Association have now made calls for this revision of the TPA/TPO to now include the banning of ALL flavoured additives used for/or in E-Cigarettes.
Their reason for this being that the aim must be
“To reduce the attractiveness of electronic cigarettes for adolescents and young people, but also older non-smokers and smokers”
This is a reasoning we’ve seen multiple times before in other countries who are proposing or even implementing flavour bans, with the best interest of youths and adolescents at the forefront of why these bans are being implemented.
They deem the added flavourings contribute significantly to making nicotine-based products such as E-Cigarettes attractive to younger customers and the sheer volume of variety is one of the main reasons why so many young people are now using E-Cigarettes.
What doesn’t quite add up in that statement by the German Medical Association
As I mentioned, the case argument of protecting youths and adolescents from wanting to use E-Cigarettes because of the “attractive flavours” has been seen around the world in different countries wanting to impose similar regulations and restrictions. But what doesn’t quite make sense to me in that statement is the tail end of it, bringing in the groups of “older non-smokers and smokers” and to me, it gives a slight sense of contradiction and I’ll explain why.
I understand they might appeal to non-smokers, but looking at a survey conducted by the BVRA amongst consumers of E-Cigarettes in Germany in July 2022, out of the 1771 respondents, nearly 97% of them admitted they were smokers prior to using an E-Cigarette, with only 2.2% being “never-smokers”
Using the classification of “older non smokers” is a bit odd. It might just be my own outlook on this, but normally “older” people are a lot less likely to be influenced and attracted to something compared to what say, a youth or young person might be.
Peer pressure and the urge to fit in and keep up with current trends, plus the experimental and curious nature of a young person is something that happens a lot more during adolescent years, not so much when a person is older, so it seems strange they’ve used the classification of “older non smokers” as a group for concern here.
And why would they want to reduce the attractiveness of E-Cigarettes and flavours to smokers? Surely they would want to promote E-Cigarettes and flavours to smokers so it would encourage them to stop smoking, and in turn, bring down costs to the country from medical treatment if they contract a smoking related illness, as well as bringing down the mortality rate which is relatively high because of smoking related deaths.
Like I said, this just feels a bit contradictory to me, and essentially a little counter productive, but that’s just my opinion.
Why banning flavours hinder more people than it benefits
I’ve gone over this argument multiple times in my previous articles about countries looking to ban flavours, or who have already banned flavours, such as Australia, Holland and China, but banning flavoured E-Liquid really does to hinder a lot more people than it will actually benefit.
I don’t know about you, but when I gave up smoking and turned to Vaping, the absolute last thing I wanted was a Tobacco flavoured E-Liquid, because let’s face it, nobody really likes the taste of tobacco that much do they? Maybe you do, but I know I certainly don’t and getting a flavour that was as far from Tobacco was a huge appealing factor to make the switch to vaping.
And this stance of mine remains the same to this day, 7 years later from quitting smoking and starting to use an E-Cigarette, I haven’t looked back.
I know if there was a flavour ban bought in here in the UK, I would suffer big time to continue to vape if I couldn’t get the flavours I was used to, as would many other people I would imagine. Flavours play an absolute integral part in keeping me vaping and away from cigarettes, and it does to other people as well, which surveys have showed.
Large numbers of respondents to surveys carried out in different countries admit that flavoured vape juice is what keeps them from relapsing and going back to smoking, and if something like a flavour ban did happen in their country, they would likely end up going back to smoking.
Others also come through with the argument that they would find alternative channels to obtain flavoured vape juice outside of their home country, which could resort to “black market” sales seeing a huge uprise, due to people not getting what they are used to from their usual outlets.
So, here we are again, concluding another article regarding another country wanting to ban flavoured vape juices. Sadly this is becoming all too frequent for me to read in the news, and report back to, and my stance on these bans being introduced will remain the same being;
FLAVOUR BANS ARE NOT THE ANSWER.
In my opinion, flavour bans will not have much of an impact on the consumption figures of young people like what Government’s think it will have. Don’t get me wrong, it likely will have some impact, but not a lot. What it will impact is the amount of current vapers who rely on flavoured E-Liquids to keep them from going back to smoking cigarettes, as well as current adult smokers who may want to try converting to vaping and getting off the cigarettes, but only having the option of tobacco or menthol vape juice would stop them from making the change as they do not like either of those flavours.
This is yet another case of only time will tell on what will happen in the country of Germany, and you can bet that I will keep you all updated with any progress and or happenings