First in Europe: Belgium will ban sale of disposable vapes from 2025

First in Europe: Belgium will ban sale of disposable vapes from 2025
Credit: Belga

Belgium will ban the sale of disposable e-cigarettes (also known as 'vapes') from 1 January 2025, as it received approval from the European Commission to do so, announced Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke (Vooruit) on Saturday.

Smoking is one of the biggest causes of illness and/or preventable death in Belgium. As part of Vandenbroucke's "anti-tobacco plan," numerous measures were introduced in recent years to ensure that people would be increasingly motivated to quit smoking on the one hand, and to not start smoking on the other. ​

"The disposable e-cigarette causes a lot of damage to society and the environment. This harmful product mainly targets our young people. I am therefore pleased that we can remove this from the market," he said in a press release.

Credit: Belga

Marketing for these vapes is "very savvy" and "youth-oriented," said Vandenbroucke. While the sale of vapes to minors is currently banned in Belgium, their use is still widespread and an inspection in 2023 showed that about three in four points of sale sold disposable vapes to minors, even though it is prohibited.

Vandenbroucke's anti-tobacco plan, published in 2021, already showed that the authorities wanted to ban the sale of disposable e-cigarettes from 2025, and Vandenbroucke had at the time already submitted regulations banning disposable e-cigarettes to the European Commission.

The basic rules regarding smoking products are laid down in the Tobacco Products Directive, and banning tobacco products (or derivatives thereof) must first be assessed against this directive. For three years, additional arguments were requested again and again, but the Commission finally gave the green light this week.

Breaking the power of the tobacco lobby

"Belgium is playing a pioneering role in Europe to break the power of the tobacco lobby," he stressed. "This is another milestone in our fight against tobacco."

Now, the Royal Decree for this is being created, making Belgium the first country in Europe to ban the sale of disposable e-cigarettes. ​

"We strive for a smoke-free generation and want people, especially young people, to be better protected and to come into less contact with tobacco or alternative smoking methods," Vandenbroucke said. "With this measure, we ensure that we remove an extremely harmful product from the market, which is also cheap and therefore attractive to young people."

Regular, non-disposable vapes may still be sold as for many, vaping is also used as a tool to stop smoking. "Still, we have been able to agree that they can no longer be offered with lights and other things to make them attractive," Vandenbroucke announced. "It should not be a product to start smoking, but to stop smoking."

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