Electronic cigarettes

New products are constantly entering the market that resemble a tobacco product and contain nicotine but do not contain tobacco. Such products may include, for example, nicotine-containing snus-like pouches, nicotine-containing jellies for use in water pipes, or nicotine-containing herbal products for heating.

Product development and marketing of new products are clearly targeted especially at young consumers. In the EU’s internal market, the main rule is the free movement of products, which is why various tobacco substitutes containing nicotine also end up on the Finnish market.

The World Health Organisation (WHO), several researchers  and public health experts are concerned about the fact that when using electronic cigarettes, nicotine is inhaled as warm steam. The toxicity and physiological effects of such exposure have not been thoroughly investigated.

Nicotine addiction continues

Research indicates that people using electronic cigarettes are not able to kick the nicotine addiction. Researchers are concerned that various flavors and easily inhalable steam tempts to try vaping, reducing the threshold to take up actual smoking.

WHO does not recommend the use of electronic cigarettes as a support measure for quitting smoking, nor would it allow their use on premises defined as smoke-free environments.

Young people and e-cigarettes

In Finland, electronic cigarettes were introduced to the market in 2010. According to the Adolescent Health and Lifestyle Survey (2019), 16-18-year-old boys began experimenting more with electronic cigarettes, but this trend did not apply to other age or gender groups. In 2019, approximately three percent of 18-year-old males used electronic cigarettes daily, while among women of the same age, the percentage was 0.4%.

Daily use of electronic cigarettes was even less common among 14-16-year-old girls and boys, ranging between 0.4% and 0.8%. However, 12-year-olds did not use electronic cigarettes daily or even weekly.

Nevertheless, daily e-cigarette use has become increasingly common among young people in recent years. In 2023, six percent of young people (aged 14–20) used e-cigarettes daily, compared to three percent in 2021.

In 2023, 7% of boys and 6% of girls in the 8th and 9th grades at comprehensive schools used e-cigarettes daily. In upper secondary schools, the corresponding percentages were 2% for boys and 3% for girls. In vocational institutes, 6% of boys and 7% of girls used e-cigarettes daily.

E-cigarettes equal to cigarettes

For the most part, the regulations that apply to regular cigarettes also apply to electronic cigarettes:

  • The use of electronic cigarettes is prohibited on premises where smoking is prohibited.
  • Electronic cigarettes may not be sold or handed over to people under the age of 18.
  • Minors may not possess electronic cigarettes.
  • Marketing and retail display of e-cigarettes is also prohibited.

Electronic cigarettes and nicotine liquids used in them can be sold with an outlet-specific retail licence. Online sale and other distance selling of electronic cigarettes and nicotine liquids is prohibited.

A 24-hour time limit is observed in the import of nicotine liquids for electronic cigarettes from outside the EEA. Therefore, in order to be allowed to import these products, a traveller has to be away from Finland for at least 24 hours.

Nicotine liquids may not include flavours such as candy or fruit. Unit packets of electronic cigarettes and refill containers shall include:

  • a list of ingredients contained in the product;
  • an indication of the nicotine content of the product and the delivery per dose;
  • the manufacturer’s batch number;
  • a recommendation to keep the product out of reach of children;
  • health warnings in Finnish and in Swedish
  • a leaflet with information on the product and its use and the necessary contact details.

The working group to develop national tobacco and nicotine policy:

  • The characteristics of tobacco substitutes containing nicotine should be regulated in a similar way as tobacco products and nicotine liquid.
  • This should be reflected, for example, in the restrictions on nicotine content and the prohibition of characteristic flavours and tastes.
  • Depending on the characteristics of the product, the limits for cigarettes and nicotine liquids laid down in the Tobacco Act could be used to limit the nicotine content.