The Swedish government has formally proposed a ban on non-tobacco vape flavors, including menthol. The proposed law covers nicotine and non-nicotine e-liquid, and also captures regulatory authority over all synthetic nicotine products.
If passed, sales of flavored vape products will be illegal beginning Jan. 1, 2023.
The bill, titled “Stricter rules for new nicotine products,” was introduced last week by the Ministry of Social Affairs, and is currently being reviewed by the Council on Legislation (Lagrådet), which assesses the legal validity of proposed bills before legislators consider them.
The bill will be voted on by the Riksdag (parliament) as early as March 22, according to Stefan Mathisson of the Swedish vape website Vejpkollen. That doesn’t leave much time for Swedish vapers to contact their elected representatives to oppose the flavor ban.
The proposed law bans “such additives in e-liquids that give a clearly noticeable smell or taste of other than tobacco,” according to a Google translation of the government announcement. (Unfortunately, the actual law is only available in a Swedish PDF.) The law also sets a minimum age of 18 to purchase products made with synthetic nicotine, which had not been regulated previously.
The government has been actively pursuing a flavor ban for several years. According to Mathisson, the government finished its investigation of the issue last year and announced a bill banning flavors would be forthcoming.
Sweden famously has the lowest adult smoking prevalence—and the lowest tobacco-attributable disease—in Europe, due to the popularity of snus, a pasteurized smokeless tobacco product with no proven harms. Snus is banned in the European Union, but Sweden was given an exemption to allow snus sales when it entered the EU in 1995. Snus has been used widely in Sweden for over 200 years. Swedish Match snus was the first tobacco product to receive Modified Risk (MRTP) designation from the U.S. FDA in 2019.
If Sweden passes its flavor prohibition, it will become the eighth European country to do so. Estonia, Finland, Hungary and Ukraine have flavor restrictions in place currently. Denmark’s flavor ban is set to take effect in April, and Lithuania and the Netherlands have passed bans that will begin in July. No European country has an outright ban on all vape product sales.