Belgium's Health Council calls for reform on e-cigarettes sales

The Superior Health Council of Belgium warns not to start smoking electronic cigarettes unless as a replacement for classic cigarettes. The Council calls on the government to enforce stricter measures on the liquids in e-cigarettes and to makes packaging less attractive to young people.

According to Belgium’s health office, almost 10% of young men between 15-24 smoked e-cigarettes once a week. In a student survey, 17% of Flemish youth admitted to smoking an e-cigarette once in the past year.

Vaping is seen as cool and less unhealthy than regular cigarettes by young people, which has made the Health Council re-examine how e-cigarettes are sold on the market. The Health Council is part of Belgium’s public health institute and advises lawmakers on policy to improve health.

Harmful effects

The Health Council concludes that e-cigarettes are not advisable for non-smokers or young people, due to the addictive nicotine found in e-cigarettes ass well as the vaporised ​ liquid in the cigarette, which is inhaled by the user. The liquid can contain over 1,800 substances, whose safety isn’t guaranteed.

Due to the potentially dangerous effects of the unknown substances within the e-cigarette, the Health Counciol calls for the current e-liquid market to halt and for no new products to be allowed in, before the existing have been examined.

In addition, the Health Council wants to get rid of the attractive packaging for e-cigarette products and carry health warnings on the packaging.

For the Health Council, it would be a step too far to include photos of damaged lungs on packing, on par with regular cigarettes.

“E-cigarettes are a potential tool for stopping tobacco completely: they are considered substantially less harmful than smoking. They are a better alternative to smoking for smokers,” said the Health Council to the Belgian newspaper De Morgen.

Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke is following the Health Council’s advice and has already drafted a royal decree to implement changes.

“We are going to draw up a list of permitted and prohibited substances and introduce rules on packaging, so that they become less attractive,” he said.



© BELGA PHOTO (Robyn Beck / AFP)



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