Sellers of flavored e-cigarette additives have asked for extra time following an announcement that such items contravene a 2019 ban on flavored vaping products, and must be removed from the shelves by August.
The affected retailers have asked for a period of grace through to June next year before the ban, which the Ministry of Social Affairs and the Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority (TTJA) announced at the end of May.
Unsold inventory which would cost hundreds of thousands of euros has been cited as the main reason, though since the ban of flavored e-cigarette liquids per se has been banned for three years now, this request is unlikely to be met, ERR reports.
Flavored e-cigarette products had been banned in the first place as they were thought to appeal to schoolchildren; according to head of the alcohol and tobacco department at the National Institute for Health Development (TAI) Anneli Sammel, 36 percent of schoolchildren have tried e-cigarettes. Among schoolgirls alone, the figure is 24 percent, she added.
Meanwhile, Aive Telling of the social affairs ministry called the appearance on the market of flavored liquids which can be added to e-cigarette liquids a cunning means to circumvent the law, while further clarification on how to categorize the products has arisen since 2019.
"In 2019, we had talked about whether these constituted e-liquids or were flavorings or essences for seasoning, or for widespread use in food. markings on liquids, "Telling told ERR.
"In the meantime, a category has emerged that says it is for use in an e-cigarette. It has e-liquid markings from other countries on it," she added.
This means that in effect retailers of these products have been breaking the law for three years, though merchants themselves intepret the law diffently.
Diane Sirelpuu, the CEO of one firm, Nicorex Baltic, said that in 2019, just before the law came into force, that the company had received written answers from all the relevant agencies that while flavored e-liquids had indeed been banned, selling separate flavorings was still permissible.
"These seasonings have been bought according to demand in advance. They are in warehouses, shops and are ready-made in other countries," she said.
The 2019 ban followed one on most flavored types of regular cigarettes from three years earlier, while in 2020 the tax authority stated that ordering such products from countries where they are legally sold and importing them into Estonia was against the law. Menthol cigarettes, meanwhile, were banned for sale in Estonia i May 2020, on the back of an EU regulation.
Editor: Andrew Whyte