Sweden’s health authorities are preparing to roll back restrictions on e-cigarette sales, following a campaign led by anti-smoking group Doctors for Smoke-Free Sweden.
The move comes after a national survey last month found that two-thirds of Swedes said they smoked cigarettes, but only one-third said they would be more likely to quit smoking if e-cigs were available.
The survey also found that 60 percent of smokers in Sweden have tried vaping.
But the country’s health ministry announced in April that it would ban sales to minors and only allow a limited number of vape shops.
The ban on e.cigarettes has sparked heated debate on social media, with many Swedes questioning why the government is moving in this direction, especially when there are millions of smokers and young people who want to start vaping.
The Swedish government is expected to unveil a final proposal by early next month, which is expected with a recommendation on whether the sale of e-cigarettes is banned.
The announcement comes after the government in April proposed a ban on sales to underage children, citing concerns that e-vapor products could encourage the use of e.coli among children.
Doctors for Smokers Sweden’s Anna Kjellström, the countrys chief medical officer, said she believed the ban on the sale to minors was a necessary first step in the fight against the health risks posed by e-liquid.
She said the Swedish government needs to take the same approach to e-pipes as to other products.
“This is about protecting children, not about regulating the e-market,” she said.
“If we ban e-smoke, we will see a lot of deaths, which could lead to a very large increase in e-smoking in Sweden.”
In Sweden, e-products sold to minors are not regulated by the Health Ministry.
The health minister has also said that he will consider banning e-juices sold to children, and that e.juice should be considered a “vaping product.”
According to the latest national survey, almost half of Swedish adults who said they smoke cigarettes have tried e-liquids, and nearly two-fifths of adults who have used e-tobacco products said they will be more inclined to quit if the products are available to minors.
The Health Ministry plans to present its final recommendations on the ban by early 2018.
A nationwide ban on smoking e-bombs, a device that uses compressed e- liquid to inhale nicotine, is also planned.