Paris (AFP)

Europe largely escapes the trend of regulatory tightening against vaping, recently illustrated by the bans on electronic cigarettes in India and, in their flavored versions, in several US states, including New York.

Electronic cigarettes, considered "undeniably harmful" in a recent report by the World Health Organization (WHO), have been growing in popularity since their appearance in the mid-2000s.

US President Donald Trump has promised a ban on fried cigarettes at the federal level, after the death of acute pulmonary diseases of seven vapers in the United States.

- European regulations -

In Europe, e-cigarettes are generally subject to the same legislation as conventional cigarettes, including the prohibition on sale for under-18s, the ban on use in public spaces and restrictions on advertising.

Some countries, such as Romania or Bulgaria, however tolerate vaping in public places.

The European Commission is committed to submitting a report by 20 May 2021 to possibly amend the current directive - which includes a limit on the amount of nicotine in electronic cigarettes and refill liquids and prohibits certain additives -, based on the available scientific information on the effects of the electronic cigarette. The rules on aromas and non-nicotine refill liquids are the responsibility of the Member States.

The Norwegian Parliament only lifted the ban on e-cigarettes containing nicotine in December 2016.

- The United Kingdom, promoter of vaping -

The UK government released a document in December 2018 that "evidence is mounting to show that e-cigarettes are significantly less harmful to health than smoking tobacco and can help smokers quit smoking." ".

In February 2019, the Public Health Agency of England (PHE) said in a report that "alternatives to tobacco, such as electronic cigarettes, can play a key role in improving public health." "England must continue to make efforts to ensure that vaping remains an accessible and attractive alternative to smoking," she concluded.

In France, 700,000 daily smokers quit smoking with the help of the electronic cigarette between 2010 and 2017, according to the agency Public Health France. But the Ministry of Health, which has made the fight against tobacco a priority, has always been cautious about the issue of the electronic cigarette, in the absence of certainty about its effects on health in the long term.

According to Santé Publique France, 3.8% of French people used electronic cigarettes daily in 2018.

- These countries where the e-cigarette is not (yet) tobacco -

In Switzerland, where the federal authorities "recommend caution with e-cigarettes because long-term health effects are still largely unknown", e-cigarettes fall within the scope of the food law and are therefore considered "usual objects".

However, a draft law is being debated in Parliament in order to assimilate electronic cigarettes to "tobacco products": they would then be subject to the same restrictions as conventional cigarettes (restrictions on advertising, prohibition of sale to minors).

The situation is similar in Russia, where electronic cigarettes are subject to legal uncertainty. But the government supports a bill to ensure that their use is regulated and integrated into the national tobacco control policy.

- Towards higher standards -

In the Netherlands, stricter safety standards were imposed in May 2016, regarding the form, the nicotine dose, the maximum volume of the tank for the liquid. For its part, Estonia has banned the sale of electronic cigarette products containing stimulants such as taurine or caffeine, or flavors other than nicotine.

The Swedish public health agency, which has been banned from flavored cigarettes but not from flavored electronic cigarettes, has recently declared its readiness to re-evaluate its policy.

burx-thm / lp / lpt

© 2019 AFP