Additional measures for smoke-free generation | News report

News item | 02-12-2022 | 15:15

The cabinet wants children growing up now to be part of the smoke-free generation. Additional measures are needed to achieve this. From 2025, e-cigarettes may only be sold in specialist shops. The cabinet has decided this because of concerns about the growing popularity of e-cigarettes among young people. The sale of regular cigarettes and roll-your-own tobacco will also be further restricted, on top of the supermarket sales ban that applies from 2024.

From 2030, tobacco may no longer be sold at petrol stations, but only in convenience stores and specialist shops. From 2032, only specialist shops may sell tobacco products. From 2024, there will also be a registration requirement for all tobacco sales outlets, which makes monitoring and enforcement easier. The Cabinet is extending the smoking ban to places where there are many children, such as playgrounds and sports parks, and is investigating raising the age limit for tobacco to 21. The tobacco tax will increase by two steps of 1.22 euros over the next two years. How to proceed with an increase in excise duty after 2024 is being investigated.

Do more

State Secretary for Health, Welfare and Sport Van Ooijen: “Smoking causes a huge amount of health misery for many people. That’s why we need to do more. We will further reduce tobacco products by law, make it easier to quit smoking and do what we can to prevent young people from starting in the first place. With these measures, we are taking important extra steps so that children growing up now can be part of the smoke-free generation.”

Ban nicotine pouches

The tobacco industry is constantly launching new tobacco products and nicotine products without tobacco that make it easier for young people to come into contact with nicotine. Exposure to nicotine has a lasting impact on brain development in young people. It leads to less concentration and more impulsivity. Furthermore, there is concern that these products will lower the threshold for young people to start smoking. The cabinet will therefore completely ban so-called nicotine pouches for oral use (similar to snuff but without tobacco). For other nicotine products, the rules are as far as possible adapted to tobacco products. This means, among other things, that there will be an age limit and a ban on advertising.

Increase in excise duty in the long term

In 2023 and 2024, the tobacco tax for a pack of 20 cigarettes will be increased twice by approximately 1.22 euros, so that a pack from 1 April 2024 will cost an average of 10 euros. Because an increase in excise duty is the most effective measure to reduce health damage from tobacco, the government is investigating how this price target can best be used after 2024 in the longer term to reach the smoke-free generation by 2040. To this end, 4 scenarios are being investigated: no further increase , annual indexation, annual increase of 10% and an annual supplement of 1 euro.

Age limit to 21 years

The vast majority of smokers start before they turn 21. Raising the age limit can be effective in preventing young people under the age of 18 from starting to smoke, because it is then less easy for these young people to obtain smoking materials from friends who are slightly older. A possible increase in the age limit, however, takes time, in preparation and to expand public support. The effectiveness, feasibility and feasibility of an age limit of 21 years is therefore being investigated further.

Stop Smoking Task Force

In order to make it easier to quit smoking and to motivate more smokers to try to quit, the Smoking Cessation task force will be set up this year, where specialist doctors, nurses, company doctors and general practitioners are represented, among others. The goal is for more care providers to talk to smokers about smoking and be better able to refer them to expert guidance throughout the process of quitting.

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