Blokhuis announced the intention to implement a ban last year, but it was delayed by six months. Vaping organisations organised protests, but the public failed to join up in sufficient numbers to convince the politicians of the error of their ways.
Despite there being no evidence supporting their position, the Dutch ministers voted in favour of a ban that they say will prevent children progressing from vaping into smoking. Flavours are popular with young people, the health ministry claimed, and acts as a gateway.
All of the evidence from the United Kingdom says completely the opposite: flavours work to help adults switch away from smoking and getting rid of them, leaving poor flavoured tobacco juices, drives ex-smokers back to cigarettes.
The ministry also claimed there is “increasing scientific evidence” saying that vaping is harmful. This is a lie and relies on exceptionally poor quality science – ignoring the outstanding independent evidence from the UK.
The ministry said: "The government therefore chooses to further discourage the e-cigarette except for people who would like to quit smoking and really can't get it done with the regular, proven effective methods."
Dutch vaper Maarten Van der Werf lamented the move: “Thanks to the e-cigarette with a taste, I finally stopped smoking after more than 30yrs smoking. And that actually without any effort. I have not been able to do that with any other tool in the 30 years before. Nor could an earlier attempt with tobacco-flavoured e-cigarettes help me. However, when I started vaping flavours that do not taste like tobacco, I managed to stop smoking from one moment to the other. Since I started smoking instead of smoke, my health has improved, I have much more air and that dirty smell of smoke has disappeared. And now the minister is going to, in order to spawn the tobacco lobby, put an end to the vapes. Minister, you'll soon be partly responsible for the deaths from smoking. You are unworthy of office and a puppet of the tobacco lobby!”
Dutch consumer group ACVODA said: “Today Paul Blokhuis has rammed a ban on flavours. His promise to work with us and enter into a conversation has not been done. And all this to protect less 0.04% of young people, he is willing to throw 400,000 adults under the bus.”
The European Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates group that represents consumer organisations across the European continent added: “Paul Blokhuis has shown a complete disregard for the health of 400000 vapers in the Netherlands that use flavoured vapour products to remain smoke free.”
Expert Clive Bates commented: “The Dutch plan to support the incumbent cigarette trade by hurting low-risk competitors, promote relapse from vaping to smoking, and deny smokers a good way out. The perverse effects of such clueless dogma are easily predictable, were endlessly explained, and now totally ignored.”
Many will be wondering how a country that gets so much right on drug harm reduction can get it so wrong when it comes to tobacco.