US - federal: Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer is calling on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate Elf Bar for allegedly skirting US advertising laws, press reports. New York Democrat Schumer says Elf Bar products are colourfully packaged to attract young people, and that flavours such as peach mango, cotton candy, and vanilla ice-cream are deliberately kid-friendly. Hе claims the company is using social media platforms TikTok and Instagram, and paying influencers to market e-cigarettes directly to children and teens. He said the FDA must use its “full authority and power to investigate and take actions against Elf Bar and be prepared to ban it from the market”.
New trial available: Click on any alert below and access our regulatory alerts and get timely notifications sent to your inbox for 7 days.
UK: Lancashire Police and Trading Standards officers last week seized 1,024 counterfeit e-cigarettes and tobacco products in the town of Preston. Together they would have been worth around £7,000 if genuine.
Italy: The Council of Ministers has adopted a bill to delegate a tax reform to the government. Among other things, it aims to review the administrative procedures for the sales network for tobacco products, e-cigarettes and nicotine pouches. The bill should come before Parliament in May.
US - California: A US federal judge has granted a motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought by RJ Reynold and other tobacco companies against California’s statewide ban on the sale of flavoured tobacco and vaping products. Judge Cathy Ann Bencivengo said: “SB 793 does not control the retail sales of these products in other states, nor does it control the ability of manufacturers in or outside of California to continue manufacturing flavored tobacco products. In fact, manufacturers are still permitted to manufacture flavored tobacco products in California.” Reynolds and others brought the suit after California’s voters approved the ban in a November referendum. They claimed the law violated both the federal Tobacco Control Act (TCA) and the commerce clause in the US Constitution.
UK: As announced in yesterday’s Spring Budget, all tobacco taxes, including on heated tobacco, have increased in line with the Retail Price Index (RPI) plus 2%.
South Africa: The Advertising Regulatory Board has added an appendix to its industry-owned Code of Advertising Practice to include vaping devices and e-liquids, both with and without nicotine. Among other things, it suggests advertisements should not be targeted at under-18s, should include a health warning, and should use the phrase “safer than” in comparison with combustible tobacco.
US - Nevada: Assembly Bill 294 has passed its first reading and been referred to the Committee on Health and Human Services. It would ban the sale of tobacco products and e-cigarettes with any flavour other than tobacco. It would also ban cigarette sales to anyone born after 31st December 2002; and bar the Nevada Department of Taxation from issuing a licence to any vending machine operator, manufacturer or wholesale dealer in cigarettes after 31st December 2028. It is unclear if these last measures would apply to e-cigarettes or heated tobacco products, since there is no definition of “cigarette” in the bill.
Switzerland: National Council member Christophe Clivaz of the opposition Green Party has submitted a motion calling for a ban on disposable e-cigarettes. His motion, citing ecological harm and high risk of addiction, was supported by members of the government parties, the Swiss People’s Party (SVP), the Liberals (FDP), the Centre Party and the Social Democratic Party (SP).
Bulgaria: Finance minister Rositsa Velkova has announced that the 2023 Budget will include an increase in tax on e-cigarettes. The changes will be published tomorrow, 17th March, and a draft budget will be presented for public discussion on 3rd April before being submitted to the National Assembly.
Netherlands: The House of Representatives has approved a motion calling on the government to introduce mandatory neutral appearance for e-cigarette devices themselves, not just their packaging, media reports. Also passed was a motion demanding a licensing requirement for tobacco sales outlets.
UK - Scotland: Glasgow City Council yesterday responded to the ongoing Scottish government review of the environmental impact of disposable e-cigarettes by calling for a ban on all disposables. The council said Glasgow’s Trading Standards regularly visit shops and warehouses to check businesses are complying with regulations and advise retailers on their responsibilities and that 13,000 non-compliant single-use vapes were seized in three months. In 2022, 63 such inspections were made, with seizures of non-compliant goods made from 51 stores. A cross-party bill to ban the sale of disposables was submitted to the UK Parliament last month.
UK: The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) today published a decision against an advertisement for Riot e-liquid, which it said breached the Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) Code. The ASA acted on two web pages advising smokers to quit in terms such as: “Cut your cigarette intake and use your Riot Bar whenever you aren’t able to smoke. Without realising, your cigarette intake will be next to nothing, or even better; non-existent. THE REST IS EASY.” The ASA said the ad undermined the message that quitting tobacco was the best option for health, and that Riot Labs had agreed to remove the disputed wording from its website.
UK: The government has no plans to ban vaping in public enclosed places, junior health minister Neil O’Brien told members of Parliament (MPs).
EU: Answering questions from members of the European Parliament (MEPs) Johan Nissinen of the right-wing Sweden Democrats and Anne-Sophie Pelletier of the French Left on when the proposal reviewing the Tobacco Excise Directive (TED) would be presented, the European Commission stated that “the revision is currently being finalised”, and ”a planned adoption date will be indicated in due course”.
Finland: The Ministry of Finance has told ECigIntelligence that €2.1m was raised in tax revenue from e-liquids in 2020, €3.1m in 2021, and €2.7m in 2022. It said nicotine-free e-liquids accounted for very little, and confirmed that e-cigarette devices are not subject to excise tax.
US - Texas: House Bill 3022, which would ban the sale of single-use e-cigarettes, has passed its first reading and been referred to the Committee on Public Health.
Thailand: Following investigations into online advertisements, police seized more than 20,000 e-cigarettes, 80,000 refills and other accessories, worth a total of about THB80m ($2.3m), from two warehouses in Bangkok and Nakhon Pathom, central Thailand, press reports. The importing and selling of vaping products are illegal in Thailand.
Australia: Queensland state premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has announced a parliamentary inquiry into vaping to take place next week, media reports. It follows reports that primary school children are becoming addicted to e-cigarettes. Health minister Yvette D’Ath said the state health committee would examine how children are accessing vapes. She also said many vaping products were falsely labelled as nicotine-free. Nicotine vaping products can only be accessed in Australia with a prescription.
UK: There are no current plans to reduce nicotine levels in vapour products, junior health minister Neil O’Brien said in reply to a written parliamentary question.
Slovenia: The National Institute of Public Health has supported a Ministry of Health bill which seeks to ban the sale of vaping products with any flavour other than tobacco and to bring nicotine-free vaping products under the legal framework for tobacco. The institute also proposes limiting the number of sales points for vaping products.
Germany: Customs officers have seized 46 l of e-liquids and 40 counterfeit e-cigarettes in the Rhine-Neckar region of northwest Baden-Württemberg, on which a total of about €7,500 tax had gone unpaid. E-liquids have been taxed in Germany since 1st July 2022, and all old untaxed old stock should have been sold by 12th February 2023.
New Zealand: As shown in our compliance calendar, tomorrow (15th March) is the last day to submit comments on new proposals to address youth vaping. The proposals seek to tighten retail availability, reduce nicotine levels in disposable e-cigarettes, restrict flavour names, and add packaging requirements.
UK: Greater Manchester Police has announced the seizure of 18,000 “non-compliant vape products” in an ongoing enforcement operation.
UK: Asked in Parliament about a possible “smoke-free fund” to be paid for by the tobacco industry to boost public health budgets, junior health minister Neil O’Brien said the government would be investing £35m this year in the National Health Service (NHS) to ensure that all smokers who are admitted to hospital are given NHS-funded tobacco treatment.