Since the Royal decree dated March 13th, 2016, vaping is considered a tobacco product in Belgium. While online sales of e-cigarettes and liquid have been banned for a year now, local consumer still procure these products on the internet. Users seem not at all dissuaded by the lack of product information regarding nicotine content.
Working in the name of public health, customs have seized many illicit imports. On January 4th, a number of investigations led officers to the Brussels airport. Customs discovered no less than 400 packages containing electronic cigarettes and recharge vials. All products were purchased illegally on the web. That is to say, they were procured from international sources and imported despite the ban.
The Public Health SPF inspection service manager, Paul Van Den Meerssche, noted that this particular e-cigarette packaging was could easily attract younger people and incite them to try. Indeed, they can easily be confused with fruit candy packaging. The product manufacturer did not take into accound legal requirements concerning this type of colourful packaging as it goes without say that children will easily be tempted by such marketing strategies.
A need for change
A significant amount, at least 48%, of e-cig products procured online do not mention nicotine content or possible effects and health risks. Worse, 62% of imported electronic cigarettes have no safety warnings. Paul Van Den Meerssche notes that there is no information, be it in Dutch, French or German, on the packaging of the products seized in this case. In Europe, e-cig sales and marketing are heavily regulated. Even serious legal requirements, such as a number to contact in case of emergency, are notably absent on these products.
Electronic cigarettes and e-liquids concerned by this story were sourced from America and Asia regions. Obviously, products seized by customs are destroyed, as per law. As it stands, vaping enthusiasts wanting to buy electronic cigarettes in Belgium have no choice but to obtain them from licensed cigarette vendors.