A royal decree on the sale of E-cigarettes in Belgium will go before the Monitor before the end of the year. This was announced on Thursday by the Health Minister Maggie Be Block, in response to the Superior Health Committee’s (SHC) declaration on e-cigarettes.
The Minister agrees with the SHC on different points, including the fact that electronic cigarettes with nicotine could play a role in anti-tobacco policies. E-cigarettes will be offered as a stopgap between cutting down and completely stopping smoking. E-cigarettes could be used like nicotine patches, as an aid to permanently giving up smoking.
Nicotine-free electronic cigarettes are currently sold freely in Belgium, whereas e-cigarettes with nicotine have to be registered with the Federal Medication and Health Product Agency (FMHPA) and cannot be sold in a pharmacy. As it happens, there is a near-absence of a second product on the Belgian market. That will change with a new clause in the royal decree, and the transposition of a European directive between now and May 2016.
They see no reason to make access to e-cigarettes more limited than to cigarettes. E-cigarettes are less toxic, but the SHC has requested they are sold in specialised stores.
According to De Block’s cabinet, we can expect “legislation on the material used in making e-cigarettes and the vapour given off when they are used”.
The SHC has also called for a toughening up of the anti-smoking policy, including neutral cigarette packets and raising the legal age from 16 to 18. The Minister has not wanted to give her opinion on these points, as “the whole government must decide”.