The aim of Finnish tobacco policy is to end the use of tobacco and other nicotine-containing products by 2030. Towards that end, the regulation of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) in Finland is stricter than that in other European Union (EU) countries, including a ban on characterising flavours in e-cigarette liquids as well as on marketing e-cigarettes. This article describes the e-cigarette market, its regulation and the challenges faced in enforcing regulations in Finland. The materials used for this study include data from tobacco control authorities on retail licences, product notifications, and guidance and decisions concerning enforcing regulations, as well as public documents from the courts concerning e-cigarette-linked appeals on selling flavours and marketing e-cigarettes. Legislation and documents produced during legislative processes are also used. Access to e-cigarettes is limited, as only 5% of retailers for tobacco or nicotine products have a licence for retailing nicotine liquids. Liquids containing flavours but without nicotine are commonly sold by specialised e-cigarette shops and websites as foodstuffs. Effective regulation is hampered by the enormous number and variety of e-cigarette products notified for potential market access, limited resources for tobacco control to expand in scope and reluctance of the e-cigarette business to comply with the stricter regulations in Finland, resulting in court cases filed by e-cigarette businesses. Mounting evidence suggests that regulating flavours in e-cigarettes to protect youth is wise although not easy. Many counties are currently considering further regulations on e-cigarettes and so should the EU.
Keywords: court cases; e-cigarettes; flavours; industry interference; regulation; tobacco policy.
© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2020. Re-use permitted under CC BY-NC. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ.