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US - Hawaii: Senate Bill 975, a companion to House Bill 833, has been signed by governor Josh Green, bringing in the state’s first ever tax on e-cigarettes. A 70% tax on the wholesale price of both devices and e-liquids will apply from 1st January 2024.
New Zealand: The Health Ministry announced yesterday that the cabinet had approved policies to be included in new e-cigarette regulations expected in August. They include lowering the allowed nicotine level in disposables, requiring batteries in all products to be removable, extra child-safety mechanisms, and limiting flavour descriptions on packaging to “generic”, while specialist vape stores will not be allowed to open in the immediate vicinity of schools.
UK: The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) today called on the UK government to ban disposable e-cigarettes “due to their disproportionate use among children and young people and their detrimental impact on the environment”. This was echoed by RCPCH Scotland, which urged the Scottish government to implement a ban. Though the organisation provided no data to back up its claim about youth use, the plea came on the last day of the UK government’s call for evidence on youth vaping, and is certain to affect parliamentary discussions of a private members’ bill that proposes a ban on disposables. The issue has also been the subject of an evidence review in Scotland.
US - general: E-cigarette maker VPR Brands has asked the Federal Circuit Court to maintain a court order banning the sale of Elf Bar vapes, issued during a trademark dispute over the use of the “Elf” mark, Law360 reports. VPR claims its own Elf brand products have never been subject to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) strictures or legal action and that its Elf devices are neither sold nor intended for nicotine consumption, unlike Elf Bar products that come pre-filled with “nicotine e-liquids with candy and fruit flavors”. iMiracle, the Chinese company behind Elf Bar, appealed to the Federal Circuit Court in March against a district court’s preliminary injunction and requested that the order be staying pending the appeal.
World: Asked at a global online media briefing about the recent move in Malaysia that has left e-cigarettes unregulated, World Health Organization (WHO) director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged countries “to do their best to protect their citizens” through vaping regulation. He said: “When the tobacco industry introduced electronic cigarettes, one narrative they tried to really sell is that this is part of harm reduction. It’s not true. It actually is a trap. A trap meaning kids are being recruited at early age to do vaping because they think it’s cool, because it comes in different colours, different flavours and so on. Then they get hooked for life. And most actually move into regular cigarette smoking. That’s why it’s a trap.”
Bangladesh: Finance minister Mustafa Kamal’s National Budget, announced last week, includes a proposed increase in customs duty from 5% to 25% on e-cigarette devices, and a new tax category for e-liquids at a rate of 150%. He said the increases were aimed at reducing e-cigarette use, which he said was as harmful to health as combustible cigarettes.
Malaysia: Health minister Zaliha Mustafa said today that the Tobacco and Smoking Control Bill 2022, which seeks to ban the sale of tobacco and vaping products to anyone born on or after 1st January 2007, is scheduled to be retabled in Parliament on 12th June for a first reading, after gaining the support of the cabinet last week, press reports.
US - general: The National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) and other retail associations have asked the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be more transparent with its premarket tobacco product application (PMTA) process and repeated their call for a list of e-cigarettes that are legal to market to be made publicly available. “It has been 18 months since this request and the Agency has received millions of applications and made decisions on 99 percent of them to date, yet the only list publicly available is the names of the manufacturers and not the names of the products themselves,” the NACS said, quoting the letter sent to the FDA in October 2021.
Russia: Bill 310882-8 on the regulation of production and circulation of tobacco and nicotine-containing products has passed its third reading in the lower house of parliament, the State Duma, and now heads to the Federal Assembly. Among other things, it would introduce state licensing of production, storage, import and export of tobacco and nicotine-containing products, including raw materials. It would also establish mandatory state registration of the main technological equipment used for the production of such products. If adopted, licensing will be mandatory from 1st March 2024.
Dominican Republic: The minister of public health called on young people yesterday, World No Tobacco Day, to stop using e-cigarettes. He said “their effects are related to multiple ailments because they contain toxic agents that can cause complications in the respiratory tract, lungs, and even cancer”.
Spain: European Parliament members (MEPs) Nicolás González Casares and Domènec Ruiz Devesa of the Spanish Socialist Party, have urged the European Commission to regulate novel tobacco products, press reports. González Casares said “the new tobacco devices seek to create a new generation of addicts using electronic elements”. The two MEPs have jointly sent two formal questions to the Commission: the first about the discrepancies among EU countries on public vaping restrictions, calling for an EU-wide ban; the second seeking an explanation for the delay in the review of the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) and denouncing a “lack of clarity and rigour” in the EU approach towards e-cigarettes and heated tobacco.
Spain: The General Council of Official Colleges of Pharmacists has asked the Ministry of Health to prohibit the sale of e-cigarettes and e-liquids by pharmacies, due to the “large number of health risks that their use could entail,” press reports. The council believes there is no evidence to support the use of e-cigarettes over alternative tools for smoking cessation. However, since parliament has already been dissolved ahead of elections in July, the present government is highly unlikely to take any action on the matter.
Chile: Deputy health secretary Andrea Albagi marked World No Tobacco Day yesterday with a warning against the use of e-cigarettes, saying they are harmful to health and a gateway to smoking, press reports.
Vietnam: National Assembly member Nguyen Anh Tri has proposed a ban on the sale, distribution and use of “new generation cigarettes”, such as e-cigarettes and heated tobacco, press reports. Ministries are currently coordinating efforts to regulate such products, with a proposal expected to be submitted to the government by the end of June.
New Zealand: Following a three-month consultation on changes to the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Smoked Tobacco) Act, health minister Ayesha Verrall has announced that vaping regulations will be updated in the next few days to tackle youth vaping, press reports. Asked about Australia’s import ban, Verrall added: “We need a vaping policy that reflects New Zealand’s needs, because we have very different needs in terms of who’s affected by smoking.”
US – federal: The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today issued warning letters to 30 retailers it accused of selling various unauthorised types of Puff and Hyde brand disposable e-cigarettes, including Puff Bar, which are among the most popular brands with young US users. “Protecting our nation’s youth from tobacco products – including disposable e-cigarettes – is a top priority,” FDA commissioner Robert Califf said. “We’re committed to holding all players in the supply chain – not just manufacturers but also retailers and distributors – accountable to the law.”
France: A bill to regulate the activities of influencers on social media and electronic platforms, banning any direct or indirect promotion of nicotine-containing products, has been approved by a joint committee after the National Assembly and the Senate were unable to reach agreement on the details. The bill was accelerated, enabling it to be approved after just one reading in each chamber. The exact date of its entry into force is still uncertain.
US - Texas: House Bill 4758 has been passed by both the House and the Senate and sent to the governor for signature. It would prohibit e-cigarette containers from depicting cartoon-like characters that mimic those aimed at minors; using trademarks or “trade dress” of products marketed to minors; featuring symbols or celebrity images primarily used to market products to minors; or resembling a food product, including candy or juice.
Slovenia: Ahead of tomorrow’s World No Tobacco Day (31st May), the Ministry of Health has published a statement on progress toward a “Slovenia free of tobacco and nicotine 2040” envisaged in the national tobacco strategy 2022-2030. The ministry warns against new tobacco and nicotine products, and cites the proposal, currently being discussed at ministerial level, to ban the sale of non-tobacco-flavoured vaping products and to include nicotine-free vaping products under the tobacco law.
Americas: Ahead of tomorrow’s World No Tobacco Day (31st May), Jarbas Barbosa, director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), has warned that novel tobacco and nicotine products “threaten to undo decades of gains against tobacco use”. He said: “The tobacco industry and its allies do not rest. Currently, they spread a lot of misleading information that promotes, especially among young people, the use of e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products.”
Turkey: The re-election of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to a third term as president, while the People’s Alliance led by his Justice and Development (AKP) party secured a majority in Parliament, suggests there is little prospect of any opening up of the e-cigarette sector. Erdoğan signed an order in 2020 banning the import of e-cigarettes.
France: Health minister François Braun has said he is considering including e-cigarettes among the smoking cessation tools that can be prescribed and reimbursed by social security. This contrasts with the opinion issued by the High Council of Public Health (HCSP) in January 2022, when it said the evidence was insufficient to recommend vaping products as a smoking cessation aid. Braun again declared himself in favour of introducing a ban on disposable e-cigarettes.