Mexico to Regulate E-Cigarettes, Vaping
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Mexico to Regulate E-Cigarettes, Vaping

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Antonio Gozain By Antonio Gozain | Senior Journalist and Industry Analyst - Fri, 10/15/2021 - 14:02

In the following days, The Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN) will resolve a case law to address the existing contradiction in the regulation of e-cigarettes and vaping devices, reported El Economista.

While tobacco-heating devices, such as Phillip Morris’s IQOS, were approved for regular sale on July 19, 2021, imports and sales of e-cigarettes and vaporizers have always been in a regulation limbo. SCJN is ready to create a legal framework to stop the growing black market and protect the health rights of individuals.

Currently, innumerable brands of vapers commercialize their products in Mexico through the internet and in multiple popular malls in the main cities of the country. This black market impacts everyone negatively. First, minors and the population in general are more exposed to these products, which have no regulation, traceability or quality standards. Second, the government is not collecting taxes. Third, there are no legal tools to prosecute those selling these illegal devices.

Public health policies across the world have been gradually banning smoking, through restrictions and taxes. E-cigarettes were invented in 2003 by Chinese pharmacist Hon Lik, according to Britannica, and  have evolved into a wide variety of products to substitute common cigarettes, from atomizers, vaporizers, vape pens and e-hookahs to tobacco-heating devices.

Phillip Morris, conscious of its complex situation as vapes become increasingly popular, has invested over US$4.5 billion developing smoke-free products such as IQOS, reported CNBC. Initially introduced in Italy and Japan in 2014, IQOS reached over 30 markets across the world, including Mexico, where it debuted under an unclear legal framework in October 2019. Last year, 30,000 customers in Mexico had switched to IQOS, reported El Financiero. The global market for heat-not-burn products is currently at US$33.93 billion, from which IQOS holds US$15.36 billion, or 45 percent of the market, according to Euromonitor.

Regulation Rather than Prohibition

There is a multi-party consensus to regulate e-cigarettes and vaping, rather than ban them, reported El Economista. From the 26 initiatives to regulate these products in both the Chamber of Deputies and the Chamber of Senators, 22 propose to regulate vaping rather than ban it.

Most of initiatives address four main ideas: protect minors by defining the legal consequences for people or companies who sell these products to them; protect adult active smokers who are looking for a less-harmful alternative and currently turn to the black market; protect the freedom of determination of personality; and collect IEPS, which could approach MX$2 billion (US$100 million) in the first year the product were regularized, reported El Economista.

The next week could be crucial for the future of public health in Mexico, with SCJN’s decision pending and legislators’ intentions to regulate e-cigarettes and vaping in a country where there are still 14.1 million active smokers, according to the INSP, who could legally access allegedly less-harmful options than the cigarette.

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