Vaping in Norway – Past, Present and Future
Like so many countries around the world, Norway has had its fair share of hurdles to overcome since e-cigarettes crossed the borders for the first time. Our neighbor country, Sweden, was the first to introduced vaping to Norway, with their cheap first generation “cig-a-likes”. Norway is a expensive country and the Norwegians have a tendency to travel across the border to Sweden to have their hard earned money last a bit further. This has become a monthly, or even more frequent, tradition to fill up their cars with cheap beer, cigarettes, food, candy and whatever novelty items they can find, and there is a lot of those choose from. One of those novelty items that started to appear in some of the more shady shops on the Swedish border was those metal cigarettes with a small container filled with tobacco flavored nicotine liquid. And that’s exactly what it was, novelty trash that caused a lot of hassle for the ones that though this was their golden ticket out of the cold grip of cigarettes and rolling tobacco. They were wrong and it usually ended up with well exercised throat muscles from all the feverish sucking on the cig-a-like, in hopes of getting a minor cloud going.
The wheels start to turn
Even though some companies still sell these first generation novelties, the development have reached lightning speed over the past few years, and the first we saw of this in Norway was in 2011 when the first dedicated online vape shop opened. Friske Drag is one of the leading shops in Norway and they sent their first eGo kit out in the warm year of 2013. Walking the streets with a e-cigarette in 2011 still qualified you for a second look from passersby, and it wasn’t until 2014 vaping really caught on as a serious alternative to cigarettes. It wasn’t just the smokers that opened their eyes for vaping, the government and health authorities also found this new trend interesting.
The controversy begins
In 2015 the Norwegian health authorities went on the offensive to crack down on the handful of online vape shops that distributed vaping gear to the Norwegian public, and they were partly successful. When you are a small company in a niche market, run by one or two dedicated individuals then you have a real challenge when the authorities come knocking at your door telling you to shut down, or face the consequences. Several shops closed down their web shops, and others got lawyers to stop the madness. The health authorities was in a pickle themselves, since the law was outdated and did not account for something like a electronic cigarette that did not contain nicotine or tobacco. The government did what they do best, they tweaked the interpretation of the law to suit their own agenda and went forward with full force, leaving even more vape shops overrun in the dust.
It’s looking up
At the present moment, January 2018, things are actually looking up, and as one of the few countries in the EU, the TPD might actually bring some positive changes for the Norwegian vapers. The sale of e-liquid containing nicotine have never been legal here but is legal to order from other countries in the EU, amazing right? That’s about to change with the TPD and it is estimated to hit Norway with full force this summer, opening up for the sale of nicotine containing liquid and the more negative limitations on gear. We have an exciting year ahead of us, and maybe even the first legal Norwegian manufacturer of e-liquid will see the light of day? Only the future will tell, but one thing is certain, the numbers of smokers in Norway are diminishing by the day, and that’s great news!