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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.
Switzerland: The upper house of the Federal Assembly, the Council of States, has approved by 40 votes to one an amendment to the Tobacco Tax Act to tax e-cigarettes. The rate would be CHF0.20 (€0.20) per ml of nicotine-containing e-liquid for reusable e-cigarettes and CHF1 per ml for disposable e-cigarettes, regardless of nicotine content. The amendment will now be discussed by the lower house, the National Council.
Netherlands: Governing coalition party Democrats 66 was today set to submit a motion to the House of Representatives calling for an enforced change in the appearance of e-cigarettes to make them “as neutral and uniform as possible”, media reports.
UK: Treasury sources say a vaping levy will not be included in next week’s Budget, despite calls from health department officials, press reports. The Department of Health and Social Care told ECigIntelligence last week that it would not comment on reported speculation that ministers were considering a vaping tax.
Czech Republic: National anti-drug coordinator Jindřich Vobořil has told reporters that an overdue action plan on addiction will be sent to the government by the end of March. The plan, which was to have been presented at the end of the last year, includes proposals for new taxation of addictive substances – reportedly including an excise tax for e-cigarettes, at a lower rate than for traditional cigarettes.
US - general: Tobacco giant Altria has entered into an agreement to acquire e-cigarette manufacturer Njoy for approximately $2.75bn. The purchase will give Altria control over the Njoy Ace, currently the only pod-based vape product with market authorisation from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Paraguay: MP José Rodríguez said yesterday that his Partido Liberal Radical Auténtico (PLRA), the largest opposition party, will press for the excise duty on vaping products to be raised to 24% of the wholesale price – the highest rate allowed by law, press reports. The government recently raised the duty from 20% to 22% of the wholesale price.
Denmark: The government has sent a draft bill to the European Commission TRIS database introducing an executive order to expand requirements for notification of e-cigarettes and refill containers without nicotine, such as an e-cigarette ID for every product. The standstill period ends on 5th June.
US - Alaska: Senate Bill 89 has been introduced, which would raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco, nicotine and vaping products from 19 to 21. It would also levy a tax on closed-system e-cigarettes at 25% of the wholesale price. Governor Mike Dunleavy vetoed a similar bill last year.
Uruguay: The Ministry of Health has opposed the legalisation of e-cigarettes after the Association of Vapers of Uruguay (Asovape) called on the government to regulate them and “campaign for responsible consumption”, press reports. The ministry countered: “It is in the best interest of the population that they continue to be banned because there is no evidence to show that one device is less harmful than another.”
Philippines: The Department of Trade and Industry’s Consumer Protection Group has warned all e-commerce platforms to comply with vaping and heated tobacco regulation, or risk facing intensified monitoring and enforcement. It follows an increase in the number of online retailers found to be selling non-compliant products, such as products without the required health warnings or with flavour descriptors.
US - general: Altria has announced that it has exchanged its investment in Juul Labs for a non-exclusive global licence to certain of Juul’s heated tobacco intellectual property. Juul stated: “The return of Altria’s equity stake and termination of underlying agreements affords us full strategic freedom – we are no longer limited by the terms of those agreements to pursue other strategic opportunities and partnerships.” The e-cigarette manufacturer added that it would “continue to pursue future applications for new products to accelerate our mission and progress for the adult smoker, public health, and an end to combustible cigarettes”.
Czech Republic: The Ministry of Health has updated the publicly available list of notified herbal products for smoking, e-cigarettes and refill containers.
US - Hawaii: The House Committee on Finance has recommended that House Bill 551 be passed unamended. The bill would prohibit the sale of flavoured tobacco products and the mislabelling of e-liquids as nicotine-free.
EU: Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) of 1.3.2023 amending Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/574 on technical standards for the establishment and operation of a traceability system for tobacco products was adopted yesterday. The purpose is to facilitate reporting of all involved in the trade in tobacco products and good practice in data management and analysis. The technical rules concern “the operation of the various components of the repositories system, the tasks of and the procedures to be followed by the ID issuers as well as the reporting activities of the economic operators and the technical tools available to the Member States in the context of their enforcement duties, in particular, all access interfaces including for mobile inspections”. Track and trace obligations, which currently apply to cigarettes and roll-your-own tobacco, will be extended to all tobacco products from 20th May 2024, and we believe will eventually apply to all other alternative products, including e-cigarettes.
Egypt: Following a discussion on monitoring the sale of vaping products and heated tobacco, especially to minors, as well as enforcing the ban on advertising such products in stores and online, the House of Representatives Health Affairs Committee has demanded that a number of ministries and government agencies attend its next meeting for a briefing on the status of tobacco law enforcement, press reports.
Slovenia: The Ministry of Health has put forward a bill to ban the sale of vaping products with any flavour other than tobacco. The bill would also bring nicotine-free vaping products under the Tobacco Law, making them subject to the same product restrictions and notification requirements as tobacco products.
Latvia: A bill to ban e-cigarette flavours and prohibit the sale of all e-cigs, with or without nicotine, to under-20s has been approved at its second reading by the Social Affairs Committee. It has now to be approved at two more readings by the Saeima (parliament). Proposed amendments may be submitted until 2nd May before the bill’s next Saeima reading.
US - Texas: Two bills affecting e-cigarette sales have been introduced in the House. House Bill 3027 would make the sale or transfer of single-use e-cigs a criminal offence. House Bill 3022 would ban delivery sales of e-cigarettes in the state, including through online services.
Russia: From today, 1st March, the tax on e-liquids will rise to RUB20 (€0.25) per ml. The rate will go up again next year to RUB21 (€0.26) per ml, and in 2025 to RUB22 (€0.27) per ml.
Australia: The Green Party of New South Wales has put forward a plan to regulate vaping like tobacco products in order “to end the nicotine vape black market and reduce the harms associated with vaping”. Currently, nicotine vaping products can only be accessed in Australia under prescription. However, nicotine-free e-cigarettes are unregulated, although most states limit their sale to minors.
Bulgaria: From tomorrow, 1st March, nicotine-containing e-cigarettes will be taxed at BGN0.18 (€0.09) per ml. The rate will rise to BGN0.25 (€0.13) in 2024 and BGN0.35 (€0.18) in 2025.
UK: Asked about a report elsewhere that ministers were considering a vaping tax, the Department of Health and Social Care told ECigIntelligence it would not comment on speculation. A vaping tax has not been considered so far, unlike a “polluter pays” levy that could be set as a percentage of tobacco companies’ profits. A similar idea was raised in the Khan review as a possible corporation tax surcharge.
US - Minnesota: A US appeals court has upheld a ban on flavoured tobacco products imposed by the city of Edina. The US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit ruled against the challenge filed by RJ Reynolds to an earlier ruling by a Minnesota district court that the local flavour ban did constitute a product standard but was not preempted due to the “saving clause” of the federal Tobacco Control Act (TCA). The court of appeal ruled that the TCA does not expressly or implicitly preempt a city’s prohibition on selling flavoured tobacco.
US general: Altria is reportedly in advanced talks to buy e-cigarette startup Njoy for at least $2.75bn. According to the Reuters news agency, the deal could come as soon as this week.
South Korea: The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KCDC) last week published a report on the use of flavoured e-cigarettes, calling for tighter regulation of flavoured tobacco products.
Kyrgyzstan: Dastan Bekeshev, deputy chairman of the parliamentary Budget, Economic and Fiscal Policy Committee, has said many MPs want to cut the excise tax on e-liquids, media reports. They justify this on the grounds that e-cigarettes are less harmful than traditional cigarettes, but Bekeshev said “the usual lobby” was behind their demand.