Today, one of the most stringent implementations of the tobacco products directive was ratified in Finland.
The one I've been blogging about, fighting over with health organizations, trying to correct misconceptions in the media and written official statements as a part of an editorial team of a vaping association based on various studies and also as myself personally, where I've been leaning more heavily on pragmatic sense of morality and various standards of legislative actions that are supposed to be in effect in the European Union and Finland as a part of it.
Namely the principle of proportionality, which states that two different products should not be regulated in the same way without substantial justification.
And yet, that is exactly what Finland did today. Despite being offered vast amounts of argumentation and evidence showing they are substantially different. They simply refused to listen and referred to their unsubstantiated claims made without citations, that we and I already specifically answered to, and stated there is no need to make changes. Including issues that were simple flaws of grade school math or basic understanding of human behaviour.
Our constitutional committee didn't even comment on the issue of low risk products at all.
Our social and health affairs committee referred to the same unsubstantiated claims made without citations.
They basically insisted on justifying all the vaping restrictions based on the harms of smoking and proclaimed the violations of proportionality with pride.
But, at least they promised us that availability of nicotine liquids would not be interrupted and set a grace period so people can order them abroad during the mandatory 6 month notification period.
They just neglected to set the grace period AS 6 months...
So now it's a static date and the tobacco act is almost two months late (because some MPs felt like we're falling behind in the "strictest tobacco act" game, they forced in an amendment to add an unenforceable ban on smoking (and vaping) in cars if a child under 15 is present that doesn't even have a penalty, but is supposed to "spark discussion at daycare centers")..
As a consequence, at a minimum a 1,5 month gap is going to happen in january-february when there will be no legal way to get nicotine liquids other than physically importing them 10ml at a time, because apparently that's enough for a vaper for two weeks and is equivalent to 200 cigarettes.
Which means there will be people going back to smoking and also likely others becoming criminals because a law that was not based on logic or evidence was passed.
And after we do get nicotine liquids on the market, the only flavor allowed is tobacco. Because apparently kids learn how to smoke with liquids that taste good and then move on to cigarettes that don't?
That kind of causal pathway might be likely to happen to somebody somewhere at some point, but in trying this hard to prevent that they seem to be shifting the net effect to the side of more smoking, not less.
I'll just quote the first paragraph of the tobacco act here, which I think will illustrate this whole unmitigated disaster perfectly (my own translation):
Aim of the act
The aim of this act is to end the use of addictive tobacco products that contain substances toxic to humans and other nicotine containing products.
To achieve the aims mentioned in paragraph 1 this act enacts measures that prevent the initiation of tobacco products and formation of nicotine addiction as well as promote ending the use of tobacco and similar products and protect the public from exposure to their smoke."
I recently dropped a little soundbyte on twitter and I think it will fit perfectly here:
"Denial of the principles of harm reduction is the implicit acceptance of avoidable misery, disease and death"
I'm ashamed. I really don't feel proud to be finnish today.