Electronic cigarettes at a crossroads: Will the flavor ban push users back to traditional cigarettes?

Photo: envato

In the light of a recent survey by the Ipsos Institute, which predicts that as many as 80 percent of electronic cigarette users will return to using traditional cigarettes in the event of a possible ban on flavorings, the Slovenian public and users are anxiously following the progress of the adoption of the new Act on the Restriction of the Use of Tobacco and Related Products (ZOUTPI). .

This law provides for the banning of all flavors in electronic cigarettes and heated tobacco products, which triggered violent reactions throughout Slovenia.

Photo: envato

Electronic cigarettes as a key tool for harm reduction in the fight against smoking

In the fight against the harmful effects of smoking, which claim ten lives every day in Slovenia, electronic cigarettes have become an indispensable tool for reducing the use of tobacco products. User testimonials like it Famous Kalebić, president of the Association of Vapers of Slovenia, who managed to overcome a 40-year addiction with the help of electronic cigarettes, confirm their value as a less harmful alternative to traditional smoking:

I was a smoker for 40 years, smoking two or three packs a day. Due to the diagnosis of emphysema, I was forced to quit smoking after almost 40 years of smoking, and I succeeded with the help of an electronic cigarette. I still use nicotine, but since switching to e-cigarettes I have noticed a significant improvement in lung function and overall health, which my doctor has confirmed. I can say without a doubt that electronic cigarettes saved my life. My only regret is that I did not find an alternative way to combat tobacco addiction earlier.

The consequences of tobacco use are undeniable and the science behind e-cigarettes is extensive and clear. Although electronic cigarettes are not completely harmless, they represent a less risky alternative to traditional smoking.

Worrying research findings

A survey by the IPSOS institute among Slovenian vapers reveals that more than half uses electronic cigarettes because of the desire to reducing or stopping smoking, with fruit aromas playing a key role in their decision.

However, the data from the survey is also alarming, that more than half of the respondents would change their decision in the event of a ban on flavorings back to smoking or looked for alternatives on the black market, which could have serious implications for public health.

International experience as a warning

The experience of countries such as Estonia, Denmark and California, which have already introduced similar bans, do not show promising results. A large proportion of users in these countries still resort to banned flavorings, suggesting that such restrictions do not address the underlying problem and only encourage the growth of the black market.

In Estonia, for example, a ban on the use of flavors other than tobacco or menthol came into effect in 2020. Despite this, nearly 60% of Estonian e-cigarette users still use banned flavors, which come from home-mixing of e-liquids or obtained through the black market.

Photo: envato

Denmark also introduced a ban on e-cigarette flavors other than tobacco or menthol in April 2022. Despite this, more than half of Danish e-cigarette users still use one of the banned flavors, with fruit flavor being the most common choice. Almost half of these users find banned flavors in local stores, while 47% buys them online. Interestingly, 93% of Danish users say that it is easy to find banned flavors.

The need for balanced approaches

In the light of these findings, Slaven Kalebić warns that the discussion must be based on facts and scientific data, and that it is necessary to find a balanced approach that will support public health and at the same time ensure access to a safer alternative to smoking. He points out that banning flavors in e-cigarettes could be a step backwards in efforts to reduce tobacco harm.

The issue of banning flavors in electronic cigarettes thus remains at the center of a heated debate, which requires Slovenian decision-makers to carefully consider scientific facts and user opinions in order to avoid negative consequences for public health. It is important that reason prevails in the formulation of legislation and solutions that will benefit all involved to the greatest extent possible.

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