Brazil seems close to clarifying a future legal path for tobacco alternatives in a regulatory process expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2022.
The Brazilian National Health Surveillance Agency (ANVISA) has recently carried out “several studies” to assess the emissions from vaping products and heated tobacco and to assess how they may affect health.
“So far, there are still uncertainties and controversies regarding the use and risks associated with these devices,” an official Brazilian source told ECigIntelligence.
ANVISA should have produced an internal report by the end of 2021 assessing the risks associated with tobacco-alternative products – a report that will be taken into account in the final decision on whether such products should be legalised.
The regulatory process should be completed by the end of March, with a final vote by the ANVISA board leading to a new regulation to take effect automatically.
A market ‘out of control’
The original regulatory agenda gave ANVISA to the end of March 2021 to deliver a preliminary report, but that deadline was not met.
The sale, importation and advertising of e-cigarettes have been banned in Brazil since 2009, when ANVISA issued a resolution to that effect.
According to Alexandro Hazard, a specialist in the e-cigarette market in Brazil, regulation of tobacco-alternative products would be beneficial in increasing consumer safety.
He told ECigIntelligence: “If ANVISA is really technical and pragmatic, analysing it based on science, it will notice that the ban is no longer effective because the market is already out of control.”
Hazard, who is president of Direta, a new non-governmental organisation focused on reducing harm from smoking, believes that legalising e-cigarettes would bring an increase in tax collection as well as leading to a safer market. “Consumers are going to avoid irregular commerce and have more control over what they are buying,” he said.
A recent survey by Datafolha, a leading Brazilian research institute, found that 72% of the population had heard of e-cigarettes and that 3% of Brazilian over-18s used them daily or occasionally.
However, 67% of respondents thought e-cigarettes should not be allowed in the country, while 11.5% thought their sale should be regulated. The survey was carried out among 1,985 adults.
The illegal trade in vaping products is believed to have grown uncontrollably during the course of the ban. “There is not a reliable survey to estimate this market, but it has certainly passed the BRL1bn ($180m) mark, including an exponential growth of illegal import of products from Paraguay,” said Hazard.
Between 2018 and 2019, ANVISA issued 76 notices of violations involving advertising and sales of e-cigarette and heated tobacco devices.
The most recent survey of online e-cigarette sales found 727 advertisements had been taken down over the same period. The Federal Revenue reported that between 2017 and 2020 it seized more than 83,000 e-cig units in the country.
What This Means: The pandemic halted for several months ANVISA’s work to determine the future of tobacco-alternative products in Brazil, but it seems the process is now slowly resuming and should conclude within the first months of the new year.
– Edgar Maciel ECigIntelligence contributing writer