Author: Zoltán Kész


It may surprise those who need to become more familiar with how politics works in Hungary. Still, it is just business as usual for those familiar with the government’s stand on policy issues.


Whenever opposition members of parliament raise a sensible policy issue, the Hungarian government finds a way to either discredit the MP, shove the topic off the table, or completely disregard the issue. This was no different when László Lukács, the party group leader of Jobbik-Conservatives, asked the Minister of the Interior a question about revisiting the regulation regarding e-cigarettes. (It might be worth another article on what the Minister of the Interior has to do with health issues, but Hungary has not had a Health Ministry since Fidesz took over 13 years ago).


MP Lukács enquired about the possibility of changing the law since it has been in effect for seven years and new scientific evidence has come to light in many countries; people have experienced positive results due to more flexible legislatures and common sense.


But this is Hungary, where many policy issues meet with the arrogance of government officials who disregard facts and only focus on humiliating their colleagues in opposition.


The reply by the State Secretary was relatively straightforward. The Hungarian government considers vaping harmful and would not plan on changing the present legislation: no consideration, no openness to new studies, and no interest in looking at best practices.


The attitude of the State Secretary has shocked Michael Landl, the director of the World Vapers’ Alliance (the guest on our podcast some months ago), who issued a press release about the official statement presented by the Hungarian government. According to Mr. Landl, “It is shocking that the Hungarian government still pedals worn-out and debunked myths about vaping. Rétvári systematically ignores scientific evidence proving the benefits of vaping, not to mention the first-hand experience of millions of vapers. Vaping is 95% less harmful than smoking and a more effective method to quit smoking than traditional therapies such as gum and nicotine patches. The Hungarian approach to vaping will do nothing but cost lives.” 



The director of the WVA also claims that the statement shows that Hungary ignores science and spreads misinformation about vaping. He says that “This is not a good sign for public health. Vaping is not the same as smoking and must be treated differently. Equating a 95% less harmful alternative with smoking will prevent thousands of smokers from quitting.”


It is worth noting that the Hungarian government disregards Swedish and British examples showing the success of using vaping as a harm reduction tool to give up smoking.  These two countries are experiencing record-low smoking rates and illnesses attributed to smoking, and they provide the world with good examples of switching from smoking to vaping. This, however, falls on deaf ears in the prohibitionist Hungarian government, which would probably also defend witchcraft if its interests required it.


Zoltán Kész is a former Member of the Hungarian Parliament. He is now the Government Affairs Manager at the Consumer Choice Center and continues to be the adviser of Civitas Institute