Vaping in Sweden has been a tough and difficult fight. Sweden's Medical Products Agency (Läkemedelsverket) has asserted, and relied on lower court rulings from July 2014, that electronic cigarettes are a medical device and as such fall under their jurisdiction. Usurping that power the Medical Products Agency deployed that supposed authority to ban electronic cigarettes and vaping.
To be fair, Sweden as a nation has done an excellent job in the fight against smoking. They were the only European country to achieve a smoking rate of less that 20% by the year 2000. Today, the Swedish smoking rate is estimated to be around 17%. As great as that is you have to put it in context. That is an additional 2% reduction over the course of 16 years. Can we really accept, and should the people of Sweden be satisfied, with an average of a 1% reduction in smoking for every ten years? Who thinks that's good enough?
In Sweden and throughout Europe, many adult smokes are switching to vaping. Vapers, known as vapoteurs, are switching from smoke to tobacco. Ecig regulations vary in European countries. For example, ecigs with nicotine are outlawed in Switzerland whereas in Portugal, ecigs are good to go but heavily taxed. In the UK, Public Health is actually recommending vaping instead of smoking after completing the most comprehensive ecig study to date that proved that vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking.
Smokers in Sweden deserve more options. Vaping in Sweden could make a difference like it has in so many other countries. Denying them the right to access a smoking alternative will certainly do nothing to accelerate the gains in the fight against tobacco smoke. This brings up the question as to whether or not electronic cigarettes really are a medical device.
To make the case that ecigs are a medical device, Läkemedelsverket claims that vaping is a means of accessing nicotine. and as such ecigs are a pharmaceutical device. Based on this claim they have essentiall banned vaping in Sweden. By that very same reasoning, could it not also be claimed that cigarettes are a pharmaceutical device? After all, people use cigarettes to access nicotine. Of course no one would claim that tobacco cigarettes are a medical device. And neither are electronic cigarettes.
A Win For Vaping In Sweden
This month, Vaping in Sweden won a major victory as the highest administrative court struck down the Medical Products Agency's ability to block ecigs in Sweden. The court said “To be a medical product, it must have the ability to prevent or treat a disease and, therefore, provide a beneficial effect on human health.” The court went on to elaborate that electronic cigarettes do not outline any type of smoking cessation regimen. Simply put, ecigs present a less harmful alternative to adult smokers. End of story.
Much of the time, this argument ventures into deceptive territory where critics claim that vaping is an extension of Big Tobacco. Sales figures and reality destroy that argument quite easily. The marketing of ecig products are directed at adult smokers and presented as an alternative. The big question for vapers or vaporteurs should be identifying the best quality ecig devices and avoiding the lower quality, ineffective products.
What we have seen with vaping in Sweden is the striking down of an overreach on the part of a government agency. What we have seen with vaping in Sweden is the rights of citizens coming before an agenda. The fight in Sweden in many ways has followed in the footsteps of the fight in the US and mirrors the current fight in places like Canada. In the end, we can only hope that the rights of smokers to access an alternative is protected.
Congratulations to the vaping community in Sweden and fighting for what is right. Vaping can perhaps build on and accelerate the fight against smoking in Sweden. We hope that anti-smoking groups will finally join with the vaping community to fight for constructive progress. 17% of people is Swden are addicted to cigarettes. Let's aim for zero.