The flavor ban, approved last May by the cabinet, will only allow sales of tobacco-flavored vaping products. To enforce the restrictions, the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) created a list of approved flavorings, which Esigbond says was based on the list produced by Health Canada for its planned flavor ban.
Esigbond says the list included two flavorings—isophorone and pyridine—known to be carcinogenic. The trade group alerted the government to the problem, and the cabinet postponed implementation of the flavor ban while RIVM reconsiders the list of allowed flavorings. Esigbond discovered the connection between the Dutch flavorings list and the Canadian one through document requests made through the country’s Documents Public Access Act (WOB).
“We have offered to help the government think about a practical policy on e-cigarettes in the past because of our extensive knowledge,” said Esigbond chairman Emil ‘t Hart. “This mistake could easily have been avoided if the government had talked to us.”
The flavor ban was first announced in June 2020 by former health minister Paul Blokhuis—a major proponent of vaping restrictions. A public consultation launched in December of that year received a record number of comments, mostly in opposition, and vaping advocates also delivered a petition signed by 19,000 consumers to the government.
The rules were justified by a health ministry-commissioned 2020 study conducted by the Trimbos Institute. The study featured cherry-picked science to back its conclusion that flavored vape products attract teen users, and that “there is increasing evidence that the e-cigarette is a stepping stone to tobacco cigarettes.”
Seven European countries have passed flavor bans, including the Netherlands. Estonia, Finland, Hungary and Ukraine have flavor restrictions in effect currently. Denmark’s flavor ban is set to begin April 1, and Lithuania will prohibit flavors on July 1. Sweden is currently considering a flavor ban. No European country has a full ban on all vaping products.