Picture: The government.

All characterizing cigarette flavors, such as vanilla and menthol, roll-your-own tobacco and liquids for electronic cigarettes will be prohibited. It will become easier for housing companies to intervene in smoking on balconies. Electronic cigarettes containing nicotine will be subject to the same provisions as other cigarettes on the Finnish market. Smoking in cars with children under the age of 15 will be banned. These are some of the amendments included in the new Tobacco Act, which will come into effect on August 15 2016.

The new Act implements the EU Tobacco Products Directive. Some of the amendments are based on Finland’s own consideration and legislative needs.

The Tobacco Products Directive requires that other than tobacco flavors in cigarettes and roll-ups are prohibited. However, popular flavors, such as menthol, will be allowed until 2020 during a transitional period. In addition to warning texts, visual warnings will also be used on the labeling of tobacco packaging sold in Finland. Mandatory warnings using text and pictures will cover 65 per cent of tobacco packaging.

Electronic cigarettes will be subject to the same regulation as tobacco products. The same age limit will apply to the buy of electronic cigarettes as tobacco products. The sale of nicotine-containing liquids will be subject to a license and they must not contain any flavorings, such as candy or fruit flavors. The use of electronic cigarettes will be prohibited in non-smoking areas and they must be kept away from the view in retail outlets.

Personal import of tobacco products and nicotine-containing liquids for electronic cigarettes from outside the EEA countries will be subject to a 24-hour time limit. This means that a person will have to be outside Finland for more than 24 hours before allowed to bring these products into the country. Internet sales and other remote sales of tobacco products and electronic cigarettes are also banned.

In addition, the new Act bans smoking in cars with children under the age of 15. The smoking ban will reduce children’s exposure to tobacco smoke and associated damaging health effects. The ban will not apply to the living quarters in vehicles, such as camper vans.

The new Tobacco Act will allow housing companies to ban smoking on balconies and in other outdoor areas, such as terraces. A municipal authority can prohibit smoking if structures of the building or other circumstances allow smoke to diffuse for example from one balcony to another. The diffusion of tobacco smoke will be enough for imposing a prohibition, and there will be no need to prove a health hazard, contrary to the current procedure based on the Health Protection Act. The same possibility to intervene will also apply to situations in which smoke spreads from one dwelling to another through the structures of the building.

In addition to snus, sale and import of all other kinds of smokeless tobacco products (chewing tobacco and nasal tobacco) are also banned. The largest amount of imported smoke-free tobacco products (snus, nasal tobacco, chewing tobacco) for personal use will be set to one kilogram. A person can import one kilogram of smoke-free tobacco products within a 24-hour period.

[alert type=white ]The largest amount of imported smoke-free tobacco products (snus, nasal tobacco, chewing tobacco) for personal use will be set to one kilogram.[/alert]

The current Tobacco Act is from 1976 and it has been amended for dozens of times since then. The purpose of the new Tobacco Act is to prevent young people from starting to use tobacco products and becoming addicted to nicotine and to support people to quit smoking. The aim is also to protect non-smoking people from exposure to tobacco smoke.

Even though the Act enters into force in August, it contains several transitional provisions. For example, the provisions concerning the ban on smoking on balconies will come into effect in the beginning of 2017.

Source: The government