The Norwegian Vapers Association (NDS) represents 3800 of the 70 000 vapers in Norway. We have been asked to give a short brief of the situation in Norway and our view on the TPD implementation process in Norway.
The situation today: It is prohibited to manufacture, import and trade e-cigarettes containing nicotine in Norway, due to the «Regulations on prohibition of new tobacco- and nicotine products». The regulations are managed by the Norwegian Directorate of Health. The many alternatives not containing nicotine (including equipment), can be legally traded.
Both marketing of e-cigarettes with and without nicotine, are viewed as illegal by Norwegian Directorate of Health as they are included by the paragraphs concerning tobacco surrogates and –imitations in the law against damages by tobacco. This entails limitations in the former of prohibition of commercial advertising, prohibition of showing off equipment and e-liquid for sale, prohibition of promotion through free gifts and a limitation to adults over 18.
The trade in Norway is mostly based on web-shops. It is legal to import e-cigarettes or e-liquid with nicotine, as long as their use is intended for personal smoking cessation. This is regulated by the medication legislation (Regulations about manufacturing and import of medications § 3-2). It is allowed to import medications in quantities amounting to 3 months of use. When travelling abroad, the quantity you can bring back with you to Norway depends on which country you are returning from to Norway (Inside or outside the EEA).
The products must be legally traded and intended only for personal use. It might be necessary to bring a declaration from your physician stating that the use of e-cigarettes is intended for smoking cessation. Importing e-liquid containing nicotine as described above is the only way Norwegian vapers can access the product that helps them quit smoking and staying smoke free. Import of e-liquid comes with certain challenges as most of the trade is done via web-shops.
There is for instance a great deal of uncertainty concerning the physician declarations and quantities one can import. How are we to determine the right quantity of e-liquid for 3 month use? There is also uncertainty concerning the fact that even though a country is a member of the EEA, the liquid must have been obtained legally. E.g: Even though it is possible to buy liquid with nicotine in Denmark, it is not legal there and thus it is illegal for Norwegian vapers to bring it into Norway.
NDS fears that the above mentioned facts are obstacles for smokers who really want to achieve smoking cessation by vaping.
Future regulations: A hearing of the new regulation is announced. NDS will be giving remarks to the hearing. The new regulations should already have been presented. Per today they are awaited to come during the coming fall. The procedure practiced in Norway is that the Directorate is preparing the regulations, and the Department will then enunciate a proposal for the hearing. After the hearing period, some of the incoming remarks will be taken into account in the work with the final proposal, which is presented for, and decided by, the Parliament. Norway is not a member of the European Union. But by ratification of the EEA we are obligated to implement any EU-directive, without having much possibility to influence the process of making them. It is therefore a real possibility that the same will happen with the TPD.
NDS claims that it is not wise to implement the TPD in its present form. The argumentation is built on the fact that the TPD is legally challenged already and that it`s future is uncertain. It is NDS’s opinion, that it would be better for Norway to regulate vaping by national legislations first. This would give the Norwegian regulators an opportunity to evaluate how the future TPD could be implemented at a later time. The argument is furthermore based on the fact that this would make it possible to preserve national regulations, to achieve good public health and let vaping defeat tobacco smoking. It`s also claimed that this approach would help to fulfil the national goal of a smoke free population.
So far the Norwegian health authorities signal that e-cigarettes are either to be regulated as tobacco products, or as medication. There appears to be a political backing for “legitimation”, though very few politicians seems to be aware of the fact that there is no practical ban at the time and that enclosing the TPD would be greatly damaging for the existing vapers. It would both be making it very difficult to continue vaping as we prefer it, and to participate in the ongoing development. The politicians do not seem to take under the consideration that the TPD will only favor products with low attractions to existing smokers, and that the TPD will contribute to maintain the number of smokers in Norway.