Argentina: The government has sent Congress a proposal to adhere to the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC). Argentina signed the convention in September 2003, but is one of the few countries in the world that has not ratified it. Among other things, the FCTC tackles the advertising, labelling and taxation of tobacco products.
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EU: Spanish MEPs Domènec Ruiz and Nicolás González have submitted a parliamentary question asking the European Commission what position it will take on e-cigarettes in the ongoing revision of the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD). The two members of the Socialists and Democrats group say the Commission has been “very lax and unclear in its approach to new e-cigarettes” and also ask what is delaying the TPD revision.
Estonia: The government has introduced a bill to increase e-cigarette excise duty to €0.21 per ml in 2024, €0.22 in 2025 and €0.23 in 2026.
Czech Republic: The Ministry of Health has updated the publicly available list of notified herbal products for smoking, e-cigarettes and refills.
Czech Republic: The e-cigarette retailers group the Chamber of Electronic Vaping has criticised the government’s plan, announced last week, to tax vaping products. The group says it goes against the principle of harm reduction as it might increase the use of traditional cigarettes. Robert Hrdlička, president of the chamber, said that if the tax was really necessary, it should be based on the nicotine content.
Germany: Stuttgart’s customs office seized almost 300 litres of untaxed e-liquids at an event described by organisers as “Germany’s largest vape trade fair”, press reports. Officers found irregularities at 11 of the 15 stands they checked at the Hall of Vape fair. In eight cases, criminal proceedings were initiated against those responsible for the stands, with a total of €36,000 collected as security for expected fines.
Romania: A bill to ban public vaping has been submitted to the Senate. E-cigarette use is currently prohibited only on public transport; if the bill is passed it will also be banned in public buildings, indoor workplaces, health centres, cinemas, theatres and restaurants.
UK: The Office for Health Improvement and Disparities is working on a plan for the new illicit vaping enforcement squad, junior health minister Neil O’Brien has told MPs. “We are working closely with a range of organisations including Trading Standards, the Office of Product and Safety Standards, Border Force and the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, who will help deliver the programme over the next two years,” said O’Brien, adding that details would be provided “in due course”.
Malaysia: The Ministry of Health said yesterday that the tabling of the Tobacco and Smoking Control Bill 2022, which seeks to ban the sale of vaping products to anyone born after 2007, will be postponed to next month, instead of this month as originally planned, press reports.
Kazakhstan: Opposition deputy Nurgul Tau has asked ministers to consider a complete ban on the sale of vaping products, media reports. While this is not the first time politicians have made such a suggestion, no formal legislative moves have been put forward so far.
US - general: Altria has announced that it has agreed to pay $235m to settle at least 6,000 Juul-related state and federal lawsuits. “While we continue to believe the claims against us are meritless, we believe this settlement avoids the uncertainty and expense of a protracted legal process and is in the best interest of our shareholders,” said Murray Garnick, Altria’s executive vice president. “This settlement brings to a close the vast majority of our pending Juul-related litigation.”
UK: The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has decided that a TikTok post by the TV personality and online influencer George Baggs about HQD Tech e-cigarette constituted promotion of an unlicensed nicotine-containing e-cigarette. Both Baggs and the company were warned that such use of a public TikTok account was prohibited. The authority also stressed that media advertising of e-cigarettes must not show people who are, or appear to be, aged under 25; Baggs, now 20, was 19 when the ad was posted.
UK: The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld a challenge brought by Imperial Tobacco against an advertisement for Elf Bar. The ASA found that a TikTok post broke the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations (TRPR) on the advertising of unlicensed nicotine e-cigarettes. Elf Bar said it had conducted an internal investigation and was committed to improving its internal review and monitoring mechanisms to ensure that all online content complied with regulations. This is not the first time the ASA has scrutinised vaping ads on social media.
US - Texas: House Bill 4722, which would tax non-tobacco nicotine products, has been passed by the House and now heads to the Senate. It would tax closed-system e-cigarettes, including disposables, at $0.07 per ml of nicotine e-liquid; open-system e-cigarettes at 3% of the wholesale price; and “alternative nicotine products” $1.22 per oz.
Finland: A regional administrative court has overturned a local ban on vape stores selling flavoured nicotine-free e-liquids, media reports. The ruling follows an appeal by three shops in the cities of Hämeenlinna and Tampere against a ban on them selling liquids as food flavourings. The court agreed that the place of sale could not be used as grounds for preventing trade in products that are not in themselves banned under the Tobacco Act. The local authorities may appeal against the decision to the Supreme Administrative Court.
Chile: The Chamber of Deputies yesterday approved Bill 12626-11, which together with Bill 12632-11 seeks to equate all vaping products, regardless of their nicotine content, with tobacco products, regulating their sale, advertising and labelling. The bill was introduced four years ago, and received Senate approval in March 2021. However, it needs to be approved again by the Senate since the Chamber of Deputies proposed several modifications. Should the bill be approved, nicotine-containing vaping products will no longer be subject to the pharmaceutical regime.
EU: French MEP Jean-Paul Garraud has submitted a parliamentary question to the European Commission about the European Ombudsman’s recent finding that there was a lack of transparency over meetings between the Commission and tobacco lobbyists. Garraud asks why the EC is not complying with the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), which requires all interactions between public administrations and the tobacco industry to be transparent, and why the Commission can’t explain why the meetings were necessary.
Lithuania: The National E-cigarette Association has appealed to members of the Seimas (parliament) not to ban vaping products, saying that would merely encourage the black market, media reports. The association said more attention should be given to controlling the illegal market, which enabled minors to purchase vaping products.
Philippines: The Bureau of Internal Revenue has updated price controls on vaping products. Nicotine salts have a floor price of PHP200 ($3.58) for a 2 ml pod and PHP354.97 ($6.37) for a 4 ml pod. Nicotine e-liquid has a price floor of PHP179.20 ($3.21) for a 10 ml bottle and PHP403.20 ($7.23) for a 30 ml bottle. The prices take into account excise duty, VAT and reasonable production costs.
Egypt: The president’s health adviser, Mohamed Tag-Eldin, has told TV viewers that e-cigarettes are not good alternatives to smoking, as they can have serious side effects such as poisoning, lung damage and nerve inflammation.
Finland: The National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health (Valvira) has confirmed to ECigIntelligence that multipacks of refill containers are not banned under the Tobacco Act, and the situation has not changed with the new plain packaging regulation. However, the authority specified that each refill container in a multipack must be packed separately in its own unit packet, which must comply with the packaging and labelling requirements.
Latvia: A bill to ban flavours in both heated tobacco and e-cigarettes, and to prohibit the sale of all e-cigarettes, with or without nicotine, to under-20s, will be debated by the Saeima (parliament) on 11th May. It is expected to be passed before 23rd July, the deadline for countries to implement the EU delegated directive banning flavours in heated tobacco.
Israel: The Knesset (parliament) Finance Committee today approved Decree No.5/2023 on the customs tariff and exemptions and purchase tax on goods, press reports. The decree sets excise duty on e-liquids and disposable e-cigarettes at 145% of the wholesale price, plus ILS4.64 ($1.30) per ml, up to a total limit of ILS8.90 ($2.50) per ml, until 16th February 2025. The rate was previously 182% of the wholesale price, plus ILS5.51 ($1.50) per ml.
UK: In answer to a written parliamentary question, junior health minister Neil O’Brien said there were no current plans to increase the purchasing age for tobacco and e-cigarettes to 21. “Our assessment is that an increase in the age of sale would be a major departure from the policy pursued over recent decades, which has emphasised personal responsibility and help for people to quit,” he said.
UK: Junior environment minister Trudy Harrison told MPs yesterday during a debate on litter that the government is aware of the growing usage of disposable e-cigarettes. “We will continue to strengthen the existing obligations and consult on policies aimed at driving up levels of separate collection of electrical and electronic waste, including vaping devices, later this year,” she said.
France: Health minister health François Braun has declared himself in favour of introducing a ban on disposable e-cigarettes, which he says tempt young people into smoking. He said he was working on a new tobacco plan to cover the next five years.
Israel: The Ministry of Health yesterday issued a new warning against the use of e-cigarettes, after a boy was hospitalised with a collapsed lung reportedly caused by vaping. The ministry said the incident was a wake-up call over what it described as “a new and real threat to the health of children, teenagers and adults”.
Saudi Arabia: The Ministry of Rural Affairs and Housing has introduced an initial draft through the public consultation platform on the requirements for offering tobacco and e-cigarettes on hospitality premises. The proposal prohibits signs advertising the use of tobacco and requires any premises selling tobacco to post a price list. It also requires health warning signs and a warning against providing tobacco to minors. The proposal will be under consideration until 10th May.
Iraq: The Erbil Governorate in Kurdistan yesterday issued a notice prohibiting the marketing and advertising of e-cigarettes and all tobacco products through the media, either written, visual, audio or social, press reports. Iraq’s anti-smoking law bans the advertising of tobacco, but does not directly mention the advertising of novel nicotine products.
New Zealand: Health minister Ayesha Verrall has said stronger measures like Australia’s planned further tightening of rules on the sale of e-cigarettes would require legislative changes and would not happen during this government, press reports. However, she said other measures to tackle youth vaping, such as making e-cigarettes less attractive and less available, would be introduced soon.
UK: Junior health minister Neil O’Brien yesterday told MPs during a debate on under-age vaping that Trading Standards was to receive an additional £3m to enforce the age restrictions. Officers will undertake more test purchasing, remove illegal products from shops and act to block imports, with companies that fail to comply with the law being held accountable.
Australia: The government has announced an intention to take firm action on vaping products, including banning the import of nicotine-free e-cigarettes, which will only be sold at pharmacies. Nicotine-containing e-cigarettes are already heavily restricted and can only be acquired upon prescription at pharmacies. The government is also planning to ban flavours and impose neutral packaging. At the same time, they plan to ease the conditions for prescribing e-cigarettes, so smokers wishing to quit tobacco can access them more easily. Disposable single-use e-cigarettes are planned to be prohibited. No specific date for the measures to be implemented has been announced yet.