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Teenage trends: Less alcohol, tobacco and drugs; more e-cigarettes and medication

Alcohol consumption among teenagers is falling significantly, as is their use of tobacco and (soft) drugs, an annual survey by the Flemish Alcohol and other Drugs (VAD) expertise centre reveals. Cannabis use has never been as low as the last academic year, but experts have concerns about other trends.

The use of tobacco, alcohol and cannabis among young people is declining: 17.8% of teenagers between 12 and 18 indicated that they used tobacco in the last year, almost 20% less than three years ago (before Covid-19).

Belgium's Health Minister wants nicotine pouches banned

Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke called on Wednesday for a ban on nicotine pouches, noting that, like e-cigarettes and vaping, they can be a stepping stone to smoking for young people.

”Our goal is to prevent our children and young people from smoking," Vandenbroucke said. "If you are fully committed to a smoke-free generation, you must ensure that young people come into less contact with smoking or anything related to it.”

ETHRA letter to the Belgian government

October 2022. ETHRA wrote to the Belgian government to highlight the important role safer nicotine products can play in its upcoming inter-federal strategy for a smokefree generation. The letter was co-signed by 19 independent experts in tobacco and nicotine science and policy.

Belgium to ban tobacco vending machines in hospitality industry

Belgium's Federal Government will soon ban all tobacco vending machines in bars or restaurants, but not in supermarkets which are exempted, the Parliamentary Committee on Public Health decided on Wednesday.

The Federal Government backed a bill by Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke to completely ban tobacco vending machines in the hospitality industry. Federal MP for the Christian-democratic CD&V party Els Van Hoof, who paved the way with a similar bill in 2016, stressed that the ban should especially give minors less easy access to cigarettes.

Nicotine sachets popularity among young people causing concern in Belgium

Snus, nicotine sachets which are consumed orally, is becoming increasingly popular among the Belgian youth, worrying health experts. [...] While this product is illegal in Belgium, the tobacco industry has circumvented the laws preventing its sale by manufacturing a tobacco-free version, a purely nicotine pouch, which is causing alarm as it is becoming very popular with young people here. "For a smoker, it's a way to do without tobacco by lowering the cancer risk factor," explains Adrien Meunier, a tobacconist from Liège. “But for young people there are other risks.”

Flemish Health Council calls for reform of how e-cigarettes are sold

The Flemish Health Council warns not to start smoking electronic cigarettes unless as a replacement for classic cigarettes. The Council calls on the government to enforce stricter measures on the liquids in e-cigarettes and to makes packaging less attractive to young people, De Morgen reported.

According to Belgium’s health office, almost 10% of young men between 15-24 smoked e-cigarettes once a week. In a student survey, 17% of Flemish youth admitted to smoking an e-cigarette once in the past year.

Smoking to become more expensive in Belgium

A packet of cigarettes in Belgium will soon become 25 cents more expensive as a result of increased tax duties on tobacco.

As part of the government’s budget agreement, announced on Tuesday by Prime Minister Alexander De Croo (Open Vld), the cost of cigarettes will be increased, of which the proceeds will go towards reducing the financial burden on the middle class, by gradually phasing out the special social security contribution among other things.

Electronic cigarettes in standard smoking cessation treatment by tobacco counselors in Flanders: [...]

This interventional-cohort study tried to answer if people who smoke and choose an e-cigarette in the context of smoking cessation treatment by tobacco counselors in Flanders are achieving smoking abstinence and how they compare to clients who opt for commonly recommended (or no) aids (nicotine replacement therapy, smoking cessation medication). Participants were recruited by tobacco counselors. They followed smoking cessation treatment (in group) for 2 months. At several times during treatment and 7 months after quit date, participants were asked to fill out questionnaires and to perform eCO measurements.

Belgium’s vaping law ‘still too vague’, Sciensano warns

The law regulating the use of electronic cigarettes is still too vague, the Sciensano public health institute reports on Thursday.

The law “imposes restrictions only on the presence of nicotines in e-liquids. Other substances are not explicitly banned and therefore we still often find them,” Sciensano said. “These are nicotine impurities, volatile organic compounds and diacetyl and acetyl propionyl flavour enhancers. The latter are safe in food but can be harmful when inhaled over long periods of time,” said Sophia Barhdadi, a researcher at Sciensano, based on sample analyses.

Belgium will ban all tobacco advertising fromfe 2021

All forms of tobacco advertising in Belgium will be banned from January 2021.

Currently, newsagent’s shops are still allowed to advertise tobacco products in the store, and on the facades. However, the parliament voted unanimously that all these forms of advertising will also be abolished, reports VRT.

Most of the advertising for tobacco products has been banned since 1999. The government’s aim is to discourage smoking as it is still the main cause of lung cancers that every person can choose to avoid. However, the legislation still allowed a few exceptions.