On the 26th of November 2015 NDS received an invitation from the Ministry of Health and Care Services.
In the invitation the following emerged:
"The Ministry is aware that NDS has objections to the proposal on the regulation of e-cigarettes that are currently out for consultation. We would like to invite you to a meeting where you will be able to present your views and provide input. The Ministry is interested in increasing their understanding of how the proposed regulations will affect consumers in practice.
We emphasize that the meeting will take place at an administrative level, so the focus will be on the technical issues associated with the regulation of e-cigarettes, not political."
NDS always wants to improve everyone's understanding of vaping, so the invitation was of course accepted. The meeting was held on December the 10th 2015 and Helge Andersen and Kjell Marius Jenssen represented NDS in the meeting.
Meeting with the Ministry of HealthThe Ministry began the meeting by expressing great interest in vaping equipment, this set the agenda and therefore became the basis for the meeting's content.
We started by presenting the product's development from cigalikes, cartotanks up to modern tanks and larger boxes using a combination of oral testimony, drawings and equipment we had brought with us. We were very careful to explain that cigalikes (and similar equipment) has a closed form factor that only serve the producers, while the other more open solutions give further options, and that bigger and better equipment also had the characteristic that users reduced nicotine content automatically.
2 ml tank and 10 ml filling bottle limitations
The focus was then naturally turned to the 2ml tank limitation in TPD - and how it excludes 70-90% of the equipment on the market today. In addition to this, the provision makes no sense considering that smaller tanks means that users must bring additional e-liquid, and then refill while out and about (risk of leakage, loose bottles, etc).Then we turned to the 10ml restrictions on filling bottles, as this have a lot of the same problems. Not user-friendly, more devices to keep track of (keep away from children, pets, etc.), more garbage, environment etc.
We experienced great understanding of the above issues as seen from the users' side, while we got the clear message that the ministry believed it is obliged to follow TPD.
Then we talked about what e-liquid really is, what it contains etc. We stated that NDS is not against regulations, but that these must be based on the real damage potential and risks of vaping. The Ministry was briefed on our previously communicated position where we suggest that the equipment primarily should be traded freely and that e-liquid can be regulated as a foodstuff.
While we talked about this, we also got the final confirmation that Norway will not take any action when it comes to banning flavorings.
- E-Commerce. Registration Requirements for foreign retailers, with associated functional requirements to verify that the buyer is at least 18 years. If this is done it, buying from foreign online stores will be allowed. We argued that manufacturers of vaping equipment are small and that this can be prohibitive demands for them.- All rules for Norway in adaptation to EU / TPD will also be applicable to non-EU countries. This means that the rules can not be circumvented by ordering products from non-EU countries.
Censorship and other taxes/regulations
- There will be no censorship in relation to private reviews on vaping, this applies only to commercial initiatives and sponsorship. It will therefore not be necessary to close down NDS after May 2016 even if the rules are introduced. The Ministry was informed about how the Facebook page works and how much it means to many people's introduction into vaping, and that it often accidentally makes them stop smoking.- 2% nicotine content, over this = drug- We discussed taxes a bit, and what should be regulated / taxed etc. We got some deviant / hesitant answers here (which means they're in preparation when it comes to this). When we asked whether for example a battery purchased on a vape shop would subject to taxes, while the same battery bought in a battery shop would not - we got the response that these are the things that are beeing discussed - how far one should go and so on. The Ministry seemed to understand the point (battery / cotton / thread ) etc. "Intended use" was mentioned.At least we got to point out that large fees on a tobacco-free product, which is at least 95% less harmful than tobacco, would be met with strong opposition from our members, and that it would not help in the fight for a tobacco-free environment in Norway, but rather the contrary.
On our questions related to the kind of equipment that can meet the new requirements, such as leak free stuff, child safety, quality equipment, the Ministry answered that Norwegian authorities are awaiting a response from the ongoing standardization work in the EU.
We brought with us the poignant stories of cessation from NDS members. The Ministry politely said no thanks to these, as these where were already read and known to the Ministry. The Ministry was also familiar with other material previously sent them, such as our objections to the various provisions of Article 20 in the TPD.Finally, we discussed with them the NDS views on Norwegian health authorities' propaganda against vaping such as the horror picture on NIPH's (Norwegian Institute of Public Health) Facebook Page. We got the impression that the people we met were not familiar with this, and they expressed a generally balanced view of vaping.
The NDS representatives experienced the meeting as positive. It is positive that NDS is being considered as a serious player who can be consulted. The meeting led to a good basis for further cooperation and contact. The fact that the Ministry believes that TPD should and must be introduced in Norway was not surprising and must still be combated with all available means.I agree with what NDS is saying in the summary here. It seems to me that the Ministry at least have some understanding, and in a way they almost seem to agree with NDS. However, the sad part is that they seem to believe that even if they strongly disagree with the TPD provisions, even if they think it would be bad for public health, they can't really do anything about it. It is now this we have to convince them that they actually can. We're not part of the EU, and we have the option to say no to the TPD, if our politicians have the balls to stand up to the greedy monster that the EU has become!