Government toughening anti-smoking legislation
The government has adopted a bill banning flavourings in electronic cigarettes and heated tobacco, which appeal to young people in particular. Smoking lounges will also be banned, but only after a five-year transition period.
After the proposal is passed by parliament, only the taste of tobacco will be permitted in heated tobacco products and only tobacco and mint in electronic cigarettes.
Goal to protect young people
Speaking after the government session on 9 November, Health Minister Valentina Prevolnik Rupel said the legislative changes, which transpose an EU directive, are needed because the use of electronic cigarettes is spreading rapidly among children and youth.
"There is mounting research showing that among adolescents who otherwise do not smoke, the use of electronic cigarettes raises the likelihood of them starting to smoke regular cigarettes by up to four times," she said.
The variety of flavours that come with electronic cigarettes is exactly why teenagers start using them, as it makes smoking more pleasant, she added.
She pointed to numerous harmful, carcinogenic and irritating substances in electronic cigarettes, including nicotine, which is highly addictive and has harmful effects on the cardiovascular system, lungs and the development and functioning of the brain in adolescents.
Ban on smoking lounges
While smoking in public places and workplaces except in special smoking rooms such as those found in bars and airports was banned in Slovenia in 2007, the government has now decided for a full ban, but only after a five-year transition period.
"Despite ventilation, filtration and other technical measures, smoking lounges have proved to be ineffective against exposure to tobacco smoke," the minister said.
Concerned that flavoured smoking products could still be sold on the black market, the government also intends to introduce new rules prohibiting individuals from selling or importing tobacco products in bulk.
While a ban on selling these products online has existed since 2017, the proposed changes prohibit individuals from importing them from third countries.
High toll of tobacco
More than 3,100 people die from smoking in Slovenia every year, Health Ministry data shows.
Meanwhile, nine in ten of the 1,563 new cases of lung cancer diagnosed every year are thought to be linked to smoking.
Survey data from the National Institute of Public Health shows 2.6% of 11-year-olds, 23.5% of 15-year-olds and 42% of 17-year-olds have smoked cigarettes at some point in their lives.
Electronic cigarettes have been used by 3.6% of 11-year-olds, 29% of 15-year-olds and 34.4% of 17-year-olds.
Slovenia is aiming to become a tobacco-free society by 2040.