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News Article

Mexico Prohibits Circulation of Vapers, Electronic Cigarettes

By Miriam Bello | Tue, 05/31/2022 - 16:04

During his morning press conference, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador signed an agreement to prohibit the circulation and marketing of vapers and electronic cigarettes. This measure took place soon after he was awarded by the World Health Organization (WHO) for his efforts on tobacco control.

Every year, WHO recognizes individuals or organizations in each of the six WHO Regions for their accomplishments on tobacco control. These recognitions are the WHO Director-General Special Recognition award and the World No Tobacco Day award.

The WHO Director-General Special award granted to President López Obrador recognized his leadership and unwavering support to strengthen measures against tobacco in Mexico and "his commitment to Mexican health and his commitment to prevention as the central axis of health policy,” said Miguel Malo Serrano, International Advisor on Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health, Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).

Mexico’s measures to reduce tobacco consumption made the country a regional leader in the subject, as the country became the first in Latin America to ratify the Framework Convention for Tobacco Control (FCTC) in 2004. Even prior to that, tobacco control policies have been implemented at national and state levels dating back to 1981, when a tax on cigarette production was levied through the Special Tax on Production and Services ordinance.

From 1990 to 2019, Mexico’s measures to reduce tobacco consumption helped to remove smoking from the top five death causes for men and women of all ages. Smoking went from being the fourth cause of death to the seventh.

In 2008, the government took another significant step with the General Law for Tobacco Control (GLTC) and the complementary rules added in 2009, including the placement of graphic health warnings on tobacco packaging, a progressive rise in taxes and the creation of the Office for Tobacco Control (OTC) in the Ministry of Health.

The GLTC established the Ministry’s responsibilities for the organization of mass-public education campaigns, the provision of cessation and medical services for smokers and the introduction of national anti-tobacco program’s goals, objectives and evaluation criteria. This law also gives the Ministry of Health the authority to regulate the manufacture, distribution, advertisement, promotion and marketing of tobacco products and to combat their illicit trade, counterfeit and smuggling.

This law also prohibits smoking indoors in primary and secondary schools and in federal government facilities. All other "places with public access" and workplaces may provide designated smoking areas.

To continue advancing towards a smoking-free society, the government has been paying close attention to electronic cigarettes and vapers. The 2008 GLTC already prohibited the commercialization of electronic cigarettes, but COFEPRIS called for "a harmonization in the regulatory framework to prevent illegal trade practices from being carried out." Later, the government released a presidential decree prohibiting the import of such devices to “comply with the international commitments and the fundamental right to the protection of the health of every person, provided for in the fourth article of the Constitution and to prevent irreversible damage to the population, particularly young people.”

In Mexico, up to 45 percent of children and young adults are familiar with vapers and 6.5 percent of them have already tried one at least once, this number includes children as young as seven years old, said Deputy Minister of Health Hugo López-Gatell during the morning press conference.

López-Gatell said that previous emergency alerts warning of the damage caused by electronic cigarettes and vapers and the ban on their importation had not been sufficient to curb their impact. Thus, as a commitment to public health, President López Obrador signed this joint agreement to continue strengthening preventive measures to prevent this habit.

Miriam Bello Miriam Bello Senior Journalist and Industry Analyst