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Mexico's President is seeking to solidify Mexico's hardline approach to vaping with a proposal to ban vaping through a constitutional amendment, to the consternation of vaping advocates who fear smokers will lose access to these safer alternatives in the country. Joining us to today is Tomás O'Gorman, co-founder of "Pro-Vapeo Mexico" and a member of INNCO’s Board, who highlights the hardening of Mexico's anti-vaping stance and the impact this could have on smokers' ability to quit in Mexico.


0:00 - Coming up on today's programme
0:59 - Mexico's hardline approach to vaping explained
8:27 - Mexico's stagnant smoking rate
11:30 - Are nicotine pouches the solution?
13:44 - Closing remarks


00:00:05 --> 00:01:22

Joanna Junak: Hello and welcome! I'm Joanna Junak and this is GFN News on GFN.TV. Mexico has implemented rigorous measures regarding tobacco and related products. And as of May 2020, Mexico has implemented a vaping ban prohibiting the importation, commercialization and sale of vaping products. Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who is an opponent of safer nicotine products, has declared his intention to introduce a law prohibiting vaping devices before the conclusion of his term in 2024. Joining us today to discuss the current situation in Mexico is Tomas Agorman, an ex-smoker and vaper since 2016, as well as co-founder of Pro Vapeo Mexico and a member of INCO's board. Hello, Tomás. It's good to have you on the program. Can you tell us what has changed in Mexico since we last spoke?

00:01:23 --> 00:08:27

Tomás O'Gorman: Yes, there have been a couple of events or developments that would be worth mentioning. Remember that in Mexico, commercialization of vaping products is banned, and the government is doing a very ferocious, very... very strong campaign against vaping in social media or publishing several lies regarding some kind of study made by our sanitary authority called coffee police, but the thing is that during the COP on on february 5th the first day of the COP there were two two interesting things. One of them was that the Mexican President who has been against vaping for a long time. He filed a law project, a bill, in order to amend the Constitution. He wants to amend several things of the Constitution. but one of the of these amendments pursues to include within the mexican constitution the ban of vaping products. The ban of commercialization and he is doing it in a very in a very ill and an absurd way because the constitution is not the place where you ban things, especially if you if you see mexican constitution it has two parts. The first part is composed of several provisions of several articles that is called the dogmatic part of the Constitution, which grants or recognizes the human rights to people. And the second part is called the organic part of the Constitution, and it organizes the state and the government. This first part is not a part of the Constitution that was created to take away rights from people. It's the contrary. It is the part of the Constitution where human rights are recognized, where you can find freedom, right to health, whatever. And he wants to amend the Constitution and incorporate in this dogmatic part the ban of this commercialization ban. But alongside, not only the thing is this prohibition, which is clearly damaging and clearly absurd, and it's clearly against human rights. The thing is that in the paragraph, in the proposed paragraph where he is planning to introduce this constitutional ban, he puts at the same level vaping with the illicit use of fentanyl. So actually, It seems that if you read both things in the same paragraph, people will have the wrong idea or the wrong impression that vaping is as bad as fentanyl, which has nothing to do. That's one of the things. Why he did it? I believe it's kind of a presidential tantrum. The Supreme Court has ruled in several locations that his decree, the one he issued in order to ban the commercialization of vaping products, is unconstitutional and it's against human rights. So I guess now he wants to put it in the Constitution. So like in some kind of weird idea of blocking the Supreme Court from declaring or considering unconstitutional this ban as long as it is going to be, in theory, introduced into the Constitution. It's a pretty absurd development. And the other thing that happened the same day in the COP. Is that the Mexican delegate when he took the the floor and he made their statements and they started like telling what they are doing against tobacco, he acknowledged explicitly that Mexico has the international support of the Bloomberg Initiative. I mean, it's not something we didn't know, but having your government explicitly saying that they are being supported by these NGOs, foreign NGOs, it's kind of sad because now you can confirm what we always thought, that the Mexican sanitary authorities and regulators that are trying to ban or are banning vaping and are going against shops and going against people in this regard, they are doing what this NGO Bloomberg wants to do. They are just following their orders. I guess they are receiving funds in some way, But I mean, it is kind of interesting that they revealed this in the very COP, right? And in connection with that, the Mexican, the candidate of the official party, the ruling party, because Mexico is going into federal elections within a couple of months, and the regime candidate, who is a scientist actually, in her inaugural speech, in her first big event as a candidate, she wrote several campaign promises for her government if she gets elected. And sadly, she also introduced the idea of banning the commercialization of vaping products. So the thing is that, I mean, the situation has not really changed. But what we are seeing is that the government, the ruling government, the actual government, is doing whatever they can or whatever they invent in order to pursue this idea of blocking of this wonderful alternative by banning its commercialization. In a better side of things, last Tuesday there was a rally of several consumers in the Mexican Congress. There were a few, a small group of them were actually received by some representatives. But I mean, it was nice because it got a pretty good media coverage. And I hope the Mexican society starts realizing that there's something inherently wrong in this ban, especially if you consider that smoking rates in Mexico have not declined in the last 10 years, at least.

00:08:28 --> 00:08:42

Joanna Junak: You have said that smoking rates are not declining. So why did the government ban access to safer nicotine products instead of safeguarding access to these alternatives which help people quit smoking?

00:08:47 --> 00:11:29

Tomás O'Gorman: Yes. The decline of smoking rates in Mexico has been almost non-existent. I mean... If you see the Ensanot polls or the Ensanot surveys, which are made by the government, and you compare the smoking rates in 2012 and the smoking rates in the last Ensanot that I think I recall it was from 2022. There is not a substantial decline, maybe some decimals of percent, which actually means that you have more adults smoking than 12 years ago. There has been a better reduction in young people, which is very good news. But the thing is that the whole smokers number remains, if not the same, maybe a little bit bigger if you consider the growth of the population. But the thing is that Mexico is an LMIC. We have several problems regarding our public health system. There is no money for vaccines, there are no medicine. I mean, everybody can watch the news and see that this government has been maybe negligent in regards to making the public health system work. And as you know, smoking causes several diseases. And it's been said that one of each two smokers dies from a smoking-related disease. The thing is that this opposition towards vaping and banning it and banning safer nicotine products, it's kind of perverse, particularly in a country where people is not rich, where people have several problems in accessing to good quality health services. And I think it's a pretty selfish, pretty absurd, and pretty ideological position, the one that the Mexican government has taken in regards to these products, because they always say they are humanists, and they are not. They are not empathic. They don't consider the problems that people face in regards to smoking. And I mean... Vaping and allowing other safer nicotine products would be a huge success in Mexico, because I'm sure if properly regulated, it would help a lot of people to transition to these products.

00:11:31 --> 00:11:42

Joanna Junak: So speaking of alternatives to smoking, currently there are many misunderstandings around the world about the safety of nicotine pouches. How are these products viewed in Mexico?

00:11:44 --> 00:13:42

Tomás O'Gorman: Well, in Mexico there is no regulation in regards to nicotine pouches. The thing is that they are not known here. There is no tradition of using oral nicotine products, and I guess even though they are a very good alternative for some smokers and they are actually a very safe, not absolutely safe, of course, but a safer product, especially if you compare it with smoking. I think it would be difficult for these products to to get into the Mexican market because, as I was telling you, there is no tradition, people are not used to use these other products. But I guess maybe some industry members, maybe some companies will try to to bring these products for the Mexican market. I think that if that happens, we would see a reaction from the government. I don't know which one, but there might be some possibilities. Actually, there was some work being done in order to generate some kind of production guide of these products in Mexico, not an official one, not from the government, but from an organization that produces standards and make these kinds of guides. And they were studying the idea of issuing these standards for the possibility or in the case that these products start being manufactured and sold in Mexico. But currently there is no nicotine purchase market, maybe because, as I was saying, there is no real demand for these products, at least currently.

00:13:44 --> 00:13:58

Joanna Junak: Thank you, Thomas. That's all for today. Tune in next time here on GFN TV or on our podcast. You can also find transcriptions of each episode on the GFN TV website. Thanks for watching or listening. See you next time.