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Poland could soon join the growing list of countries that have chosen to enact disposable vape bans, as the Polish government announces its intention to crack down on vaping in the country. To explore this ban proposal, and its likely efficacy, we're joined today by chemist and vaping advocate Mirek Dworniczak.


0:00 - Coming up on today's programme
0:53 - Poland's disposable ban proposal explained
5:29 - Polish government explores options to stem youth vaping
7:51 - Will harsher vape restrictions actually help?
10:56 - Is prohibition a valid response to tackle youth vaping?
12:10 - Poland follows international precedent for disposable ban


00:00:05 --> 00:01:14

Joanna Junak: Hello and welcome. I'm Joanna Junak and this is GFN News on Poland is going to be another country where the government is considering a ban on the sale of disposable products. Minister of Health Izabela Leszczyna views disposable e-cigarettes as a significant problem due to their popularity among young people. She aims to implement the ban before summer, adding that the products pose health risks and contain addictive substances. Joining us today to discuss Poland's plan to ban disposable e-cigarettes is chemist and vaping activist Mirek Dworniczak. Hi Mirek, it's good to have you on the program. Poland is joining a growing number of countries that are considering bans on disposable products. Where is this idea coming from?

00:01:15 --> 00:05:28

Mirek Dworniczak: Well, this is a situation going back to 2015-16 when there was an implementation of infamous tobacco product directive. They went far beyond the formal directive. For example, they banned international sales. They banned internet sales. They implemented, of course, 20 milligrams per milliliter concentration of nicotine. But we had several governments throughout these years, left, right, center, and every government, each one of them was against e-cigarettes in general. Right now, this government thinks of banning disposable vapes. And this is a real problem. Why? In general, maybe one more sentence about the media. Right now, incidentally, we heard Panama COP10 And incidentally, in the media, there were doctors and other people, usually in white coats with a stethoscope, talking ex cathedra, nicotine causes cancer, which is, of course, not true, et cetera, et cetera. We don't know what's in... the cigarettes. We don't know the long-term effects and so on. After almost 20 years, we don't know what are the long-term effects. So we have to wait. We have to wait 100 years or 500 years. Okay, but right now, this government starts thinking about banning of disposables Well... Disposables five ten years ago were not popular at all right now they are popular because they are easy to handle. You don't have to buy coils, you don't have to buy liquids, batteries, etc. You just buy a disposable vape, you use it, and then you throw it away. I was talking several days ago with a vape shop owner, one of the best vape shops in Poznań, and he said, he asked me... "Hey, who is buying these disposables?" And I didn't know I thought that youngsters. Well, yes, the youngsters Yes. But still, the law prohibits selling it to minors under 18. But usually, most of the disposables are bought by the Ukrainians that came to Poland because it's easy. It's as easy as a normal cigarette, even if you don't have to have a lighter.

00:05:30 --> 00:05:32

Joanna Junak: So what is the government's position?

00:05:35 --> 00:07:49

Mirek Dworniczak: The government's position is, I would say, hazy. They would... ban all the electronic cigarettes that would be the solution of the problem but it is not a solution of the problem. The solution is for example for kids under 18 The problem is that they are able to buy it without, let me say, help from an adult or illegal stuff. Well, for example, there are already some vending machines selling disposable cigarettes and no one checks the age no one checks anything. So this is and it is prohibited directly by polish law so where is police, where are the authorities they should ban installing those vending machines. On the other hand, disposables are closed systems. So if a kid buys it, uses it, it's, let me put it this way, it's safer than the open systems where they can mix their own liquids add cannabinoids, THC and other stuff like that. And this may lead to danger.

00:07:51 --> 00:08:01

Joanna Junak: So do you think it's the increased accessibility of electronic cigarettes or the lack of enforcement that is responsible for an apparent increase in youth use?

00:08:02 --> 00:10:55

Mirek Dworniczak: Well, let's think. Kids always like to experiment. When I was young, we were experimenting with regular cigarettes because there were no electronic cigarettes. And if we ban it completely, then they will switch to normal, regular cigarettes. And this is more evidently more dangerous than using electronic cigarettes. Of course, in an ideal society, no minor should use this stuff, as no miner should drink alcohol, etc., etc. But we have to face the real situation, they will use it. They will use it either electronic cigarettes or regular cigarettes. So it's a situation that, in fact, government should think of a law. We have a law right now implemented, TPD, But this law prohibits selling to minors, and still minors are using it. Near schools, I have a school right 100 meters from my home. Five years ago, 10 years ago, maybe there was one or two kids puffing on the street. Right now, when there is a break, especially a longer break, there are a bunch of kids. Everyone is p uffing. They are exchanging. They are trying. So that is a problem. But several times, I saw a policeman going near them And there was no reaction and there should be a real reaction, there is no way to fight this problem without enforcing the law. If we enforce the law then, the problem will vanish, just vanish.

00:10:57 --> 00:11:03

Joanna Junak: What measures do you think would have been better to implement in Poland than a disposable vape ban?

00:11:04 --> 00:12:09

Mirek Dworniczak: In fact, if we ban disposables, then it's not the solution of the problem. It's just shifting the problem to another field. Still we will have those open systems with coils and and batteries and stuff. So the youngsters will buy open systems and i'm pretty sure they will try to experiment with illegal substances. And that will create bigger problem for the government but government likes just short, sharp solutions. For example, banning everything would be just the solution. And in fact, it will not be a solution at all.

00:12:11 --> 00:12:29

Joanna Junak: Let's go back to the government and its idea of banning disposable vapes. I can't get rid of the impression that the Polish decision is not because of a sudden change in the science around safer products, but because many countries recently decided to go down this route.

00:12:30 --> 00:15:19

Mirek Dworniczak: That's right. That's absolutely right. They are just following other countries without real analysis. We were trying several times to get to Minister of Health. We're sending them papers, documents. No reaction at all. No discussion at all. Several years ago, I was invited to a radio in Warsaw during the GFN and I met the Deputy Minister of Health. We were talking about e-cigarettes. I gave him like 500 pages of different documents. He said, yeah, I know, I know, I know that. And two or three days later, he spoke to some radio telling... "E-cigarettes are worse than the regular ones, nicotine causes cancer", etc. etc." That was just amazing. So in fact, when our government, just when there was a TPD implemented in several countries. So it was also implemented here in Poland. But as I said, far beyond the simple TPD, international sales, internet sales was banned. And it was because of the kids... Because of the kids, we want to protect the kids. No scientific explanation. In fact no explanation at all... Just protect the kids, protect the health of the kids and adults, and everything so... Better to ban it but of course we have excise tax, we have tax for electronic cigarettes also, and just like regulars. So they don't want to ban everything because they would cut the VAT and excise tags and so on.

00:15:21 --> 00:15:35

Joanna Junak: Thank you, Mirek. That's all for today. Tune in next time here on GFN TV or on our podcast. You can also find transcriptions of each episode on the GFN TV website. Thanks for watching or listening. See you next time.