Estonian Health Minister Considers Ban on Disposable Flavored E-cigarettes

Following concerns raised by parents and educators, Estonian Labor and Health Minister Pip Petersen (SDE) has pledged to take quick steps to ensure fewer novel tobacco products(HNB or Vaping), such as disposable flavored e-cigarettes into the hands of minors.


The purchase of flavored vaping liquids and other products from outside Estonia has been banned since 2019, but it was initially unclear whether the ban would apply to the separate sale of flavoring additives for use in vaping.


In practice, such restrictions have not worked as well as they should, with disposable e-cigarettes also gaining popularity and being available for purchase abroad, the report said.


Social Affairs Minister Pip Peterson (SDE) said he had no influence over vaping paraphernalia entering the country, even in the case of prohibited items, which he said was the classic role of customs inspections and control of commerce at borders .


Meanwhile, Eerik Heldna, head of the customs department at the Tax and Customs Board (MTA), said the organization intercepts illegal tobacco products entering Estonia on a daily basis.


However, that doesn’t mean more people won’t pass.


Border inspections: Certainly not a comprehensive solution to social problems, Heldner said. In this case, the customs confiscated 100% of the illegal goods, no matter what the goods were, which would never happen anywhere in the world, and demand-side measures are the key.


Still, Peep Peterson said the MTA could be successful in curbing the proliferation of tobacco products, with Estonia’s southern border with the European Union and Schengen zone country Latvia likely to become more salient given that the eastern border with Russia is nearly closed.


The minister said: If such a closure would be imposed at the southern border in connection with the Ukraine war, the MTA may also have to monitor more carefully what is being transported.


Most illicit new tobacco products come from another EU country, Heldna said, adding that for this reason, EU-level restrictions, such as those on heated tobacco products, would help.


“Any such EU-level measures that start to weaken this market, especially among young people, will be welcome. They will change this significantly, and not just as one successful procedural action or another.” Heldner said.


The ban on flavored cigarettes, which removes menthol cigarettes and similar products from the Estonian market under current EU law, does not extend to flavored liquids used in e-cigarettes, possibly because of the potential for e-cigarettes to help people quit smoking. theory.

By the way, unlike Heated Tobacco, disposable e-cigarettes are more attractive for youth smokers. They will try the flavored vaping for fun or curiosity. It’s easier to get the disposable e-cigarettes than Heated Tobacco products.


Peterson said, though he added that flavored liquids used in e-cigarettes can also be addictive, just like disposable e-cigarettes.


The Ministry of Social Affairs may soon introduce more legislation to tackle the problem of single-use e-cigarettes, which has them concerned about their potential appeal to minors – who in some cases have been accused of picking up discarded E-cigarettes – cigarettes and using them.


The minister said: “In theory, the decision to ban disposable e-cigarettes, or vaping, is on the table through no fault of retailers and are adept at checking customers’ ages where appropriate.


Measures could include retailers having to take back used e-cigarettes, although there are environmental considerations for disposal as well.


The market for disposable e-cigarettes is also booming, with sales of individual flavored e-cigarettes in Estonia rising from 2.5 million in 2020 to 35 million last year, the ERR report said.


Another issue is lobbying, personified in Riigikogu by Isamaa MP Tarmo Krussimäe who introduces multiple bills each year to reduce restrictions and excise taxes, mainly with the argument (and also some empirical data backing it up) that not doing so would lead to a thriving black market.


The MTA’s Eerik Heldna added that the fact that vaping products can be ordered online is one difference between it and classic tobacco smuggling,


Perhaps a distributed, individual-based ordering system is certainly far more important in the overall alternative tobacco economy, Heidena said.


For now, the MTA continues to focus on inspecting sanctioned shipments arriving at the border, Heldna said.


Over the summer, flavored vaping additive retailers requested additional time to process the upcoming restrictions, followed by clarification that the 2019 ban on flavored vaping products included flavored additives.