The Slovenia Times

Slovenia toughens anti-tobacco law

Health & Medicine
An electronic cigarette, vaporiser. Photo: Nebojša Tejić/STA

The National Assembly has unanimously passed a bill banning flavourings in electronic cigarettes and heated tobacco products as well as smoking lounges. The main aim of the changes is to try to reduce the appeal of new tobacco products to youth.

In putting forward the legislation, which transposes an EU directive, the government proposed permitting only the taste of tobacco in heated tobacco products and tobacco and mint in electronic cigarettes, but MPs have struck out mint as well so tobacco will be the only aroma allowed.

The flavourings ban will enter into force after a 12-month transition period, starting from when the new legislation comes into effect 15 days after its publication in the Official Gazette, following the passage on 28 March.

The MPs also cut by three years the proposed transition period to ban smoking lounges. These will now have to be phased out by the end of 2025. Since the country banned smoking in indoor public and work places in 2007, the lounges at places such as bars and airports have been the only exceptions.

The bill amending the Restriction on the Use of Tobacco Products and Related Products Act also regulates the use of nicotine pouches, and equalises the regulatory treatment of e-cigarettes and liquids, i.e. fillers with and without nicotine.

The EU directive on heated tobacco products in addition introduces various health warnings on the packaging of new tobacco products.

To address black market concerns and secure more effective implementation, individuals will not be allowed to sell and import tobacco products in large quantities.

While a ban on selling those products online has been in place since 2017, the latest changes prohibit individuals from importing them from third countries.

Government officials say the goal of the new legislation is to respond to the fast-growing market of e-cigarettes.

"With the proposed measures we will protect everyone, especially children and youth, against seemingly attractive products that are harmful to health," Health Ministry State Secretary Eva Vodnik said in parliament.

Most of the youth start using e-cigarettes because they find flavourings attractive, but several studies have shown that those who use vapes are more at risk to start smoking ordinary cigarettes, she said.

The Slovenian Association of Vapers opposed the restrictions, arguing that e-cigarettes were important in efforts to reduce the use of ordinary cigarettes and that the arguments in the legislative process involved many untruths.

Health professionals dismissed their claims with pneumologist Mihaela Zidarn from the Golnik University Clinic telling the debate on the committee that scientists not linked to the tobacco industry had not shown any significant difference in the harm caused by conventional tobacco and electronic cigarettes.

Children who start smoking electronic cigarettes are three to four times as likely to start smoking conventional cigarettes, Sonja Tomšič of the Ljubljana Oncology Institute said, reporting that 16 types of cancer are linked to tobacco.


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