Under the current legislation, schools do not have the authority to confiscate vapes and tobacco substitute products from minors, unless their use interferes with teaching.
Finland’s Social Affairs and Health Minister, Sanni Grahn-Laasonen (NCP), has announced plans to extend the prohibition of tobacco products to include nicotine pouches, nicotine-free e-cigarettes and other tobacco substitutes for minors.
This move comes amid growing concerns about the spread of vaping and other nicotine alternatives among schoolchildren.
Under current Finnish law, individuals under 18 are prohibited from possessing tobacco and nicotine liquids used in e-cigarettes. However, this ban does not extend to newer products popular among youth, such as nicotine-free e-cigarettes, commonly known as vapes.
The proposed legislation aims to bring nicotine pouches and other smokeless nicotine products under the same legal restrictions as traditional tobacco products.
According to the Minister, it will be difficult to tackle the use of substitute nicotine products in schools and educational institutions if the products are not banned by law.
“A student can claim they are using nicotine-free e-cigarette or energy pouches. Under the current law, these cannot be confiscated unless they interfere with teaching or learning. Schools need clear legal authority to seize harmful products from children and young people,” Grahn-Laasonen added.
The prevalence of vaping among younger children has also been noted.
“Adults can be expected to exercise their own judgement, but when it comes to children and teenagers, schools and homes must have the means to protect, intervene and educate,” Grahn-Laasonen remarked.
In October, an investigation by Yle found dangerous levels of lead in vapes confiscated from young people. Many vapes used by minors reportedly contain higher levels of nicotine than allowed under Finnish tobacco laws.
Professor Kirsi Vähäkangas from the University of Eastern Finland, who has dedicated her career to tobacco harm research, warned about underestimating the dangers of e-cigarettes and nicotine.
“The effects of vaping are felt quicker in young and developing bodies. We could soon see an unusually high number of cancer cases among people in their twenties,” Vähäkangas told Yle last October.