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0:00 - Intro with Joanna Junak
0:34 - Ignacio Leiva explores different vaping regulations across Latin America
3:49 - Consumers leading fight against vaping ban in Mexico
5:32 - Argentina bans import and advertisement of vapes
10:57 - Uruguay takes antivaping stance
12:44 - Black market vape boom in Ecuador
15:32 - Closing remarks


Hello and welcome.

I'm Joanna Junak and this is GFN News on GFN.TV.

Latin American regulation of smoking and vaping

varies significantly from country to country.

Which countries are the worst and best for vapers?

We asked this question to Ignacio Leiva,

a multimedia journalist and founder

and president of AsoVape Chile.

Hello Ignacio, thank you for joining us today.

Hello, thank you for inviting me here.

Can you tell us more about countries

with the most problematic smoking and vaping regulations?

Actually, in Latin America we have many different problems.

If we are talking about the most problematic ones

are the ones that are having a ban over vaping right now.

And that will be Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and Uruguay.

They have some difference between them.

In the case of Mexico, it has been a very, very long fight

and maybe it's the most difficult to understand.

In 2008, in the General Law of Tobacco,

there was an article that said that this law applied

to tobacco products, but also to products

that look like tobacco products.

So for a long time there was a discussion

if vaping was part of this law.

Finally, in 2010, COFEPIS, that is the government part

that is involved in this, defined that or decreed

that vaping was under this article,

that is the 16-6, making a total ban on products of vaping.

Anyway, in 2020, there was a presidential decree

that put a total ban over e-cigarettes

and heating tobacco devices,

because they couldn't put a ban over the heats,

like the little cigarettes.

It was unconstitutional, so they put a ban over the devices

for using the heating cigarettes.

Anyway, in the same year, there was a counter-decree

from the president, unbanning the heating devices,

but it continued the ban over vaping products,

liquids and accessories.

In 2021, the Supreme Court in Mexico declared this decree

unconstitutional, because it was affecting the rights of the users.

But very soon after that, on 31 May of 2021,

there came a second presidential decree

banning again the e-cigarettes.

Even if the Court Supreme said that it was unconstitutional,

that resolution goes to the first presidential decree,

so they just put another one,

and that is what is ruling now in Mexico.

And is there any association in Mexico

that is working to change the situation?

Actually, yes, there are two very important associations.

Actually, there are three, but there are two that are more old.

The first one is Prova P.O. Mexico,

that is only of consumers.

It's being led by Roberto Sussman and...


Oh my God, I will go back,

because I'm thinking about the name of the second association,

that is Mexico y el Mundo Vapea,

that is led by Juan José Sirión.

That one is a mixed association,

and Juan José Sirión is the one that has led most of these amparos,

these wits of protection,

and they have been working very, very hard in the Parliament.

Going back to the person of Prova P.O. Mexico,

Tomasso Goldman, who is a very active lawyer,

has talked many times in front of the Congress,

the deputies and the senators,

making a very, very hard work there.

There is also a third association that is only about...

It's only from the industry, that is called Old Vape.

And there are three associations working towards

trying to move this in Prova P.O. situation.

You mentioned Argentina and Brazil.

Can you tell us more about the situation there?

Argentina also has a full ban of import trade and advertisement.

It started in 2011.

It was an administrative provision declared by Denmark,

that it's the side of the state that have to do with this kind of stuff.

It was, as many others, based in the lack of scientific evidence,

but we're talking about 2011, and now we're in 2023,

and we know that there is no lack of evidence right now.

This resolution was ratified in 2016,

and maybe Argentina is the best example

of how these prohibitions can really make blow the black market.

In Argentina, you have a very big informal market.

They don't like to be called black market.

Mainly coming from Paraguay, the products.

There are, in Argentina now, there are online shops.

They are specialized physical shops, but they are hidden.

They are kind of secret, but if you're a user,

you can go to them and you will find a shop

like in any other country of Europe or in the parts of Latin America

where it's not banned.

A lot of commerce through Facebook.

Argentina have a very aged community.

They normally are around 30 and 55.

That's why Facebook, it's the main social media

that they use to get their product,

and for some time up to now,

you can find easily disposable cigarettes in the formal market,

not only in bake shops.

There is a lot of misunderstanding of what is disposable.

Some people don't know that they are even banned,

so you can find it somewhere, sometimes in supermarkets,

in gas stations and places like that.

For the users, it's very easy in Argentina to get access to the products.

Brazil was one of the first ones to fall down.

Maybe only Paraguay had first some movement over regulations,

but the health agency of Brazil, that is called Anvisa,

in 2009 made a decree that forbidden the import trade and advertisement.

In this case also, it was based in the pre-cultural principle

because of the lack of evidence in harms of cigarettes

and also in the efficiency.

Also, and it's strange, even if it's a very, very old decree,

they put also as a point to make this full ban over cigarettes,

the guides of ACTC, the Framework Convection on Tobacco.

The funny stuff that not even now there is something about vaping on the FCTC,

but Brazil used it in that times as one of the reasons to ban the cigarettes.

This legislation or resolution needed to be revised.

They have been reviewing this stuff from 2018 until now,

and badly all seems to point that the ban won't be lifted.

Maybe during the end of this year or next year,

they will just confirm that the ban in Brazil will continue.

Anyway, this is another country where the black market have grown,

in the black or informal market have grown a lot.

They also have online shops, specialized shops that are hidden or they are secret,

social medias and also you can find disposable cigarettes in the normal market.

It will depend on the state. Brazil, it's very huge.

There are states where it's more difficult

and there are states where the authorities are not that strict,

but in general, you will be able to find that it's not difficult for the users to get the devices.

Where else are we seeing barriers to vaping?

In the case of Uruguay, it was in 2009 too,

but it was through a presidential decree,

same prohibition that all the other countries, import, trade and publicity and advertisement.

It was also based in the lack of evidence.

In Uruguay, it's a little harder for the users to access to the product.

Most of the market, it's based on social medias.

The old users have connections to get the products,

but the new users have it really hard to find products.

Anyway, the black market, it's growing.

It's done more and something funny from this,

in the case of Argentina and Brazil,

most of the black market came from Paraguay.

In case of Uruguay, it's divided where the black market get the things from

and it's from Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil.

So these two countries that also have a total ban,

it's the way to put the product inside of Uruguay.

What really shows that banning the product,

it's not only not a solution for the users,

it's not a solution for the government

because they are losing the option to get the taxes of this very important business.

Let's go now to countries like Costa Rica, Panama and Ecuador.

Can you briefly summarize their regulations?

What differences in vaping laws do you see in each of them?

Yeah, they were having a very healthy, in a way to say, industry

with jobs that were working, respecting the law,

but in some moment, the taxes went crazy up to 300%.

Just to have an idea, in most of the countries of the world,

you access to a bottle of 60 ml to this kind of bottles of liquid

for around 12 euros, depending on the country.

In Ecuador, now you can access in tops for 12 euros,

but the normal price for the tops to this kind of product, it's 7 euros.

If they were willing to pay all the taxes that they need to pay,

adding what the tops need to earn to continue living,

in Ecuador, you will need to pay like 30 euros for one bottle.

And that's impossible for the users, it's impossible for the tops.

And if you go to Ecuador now, you can access for 12 euros

what it shows that no one is paying the taxes

because it's impossible to get that prices

unless you are using very bad clones of liquids made with who knows who.

And it has moved the normal industry to kind of informal or illegal,

not to say black market immediately, it's like more running from the taxes.

But also in the same way, the black market, not only in vaping,

also in tobacco, have grown like a lot.

It's amazing the amount of black market of cigarettes,

any cigarettes that it's affecting Ecuador now.

And the government, as I told you, and that's the most scary part,

it's turning the face around and saying,

oh, we're so successful that we are putting down the amount of people smoking.

But the only thing that they are looking,

it's the amount of people or industry that is paying taxes

while you can buy cigarettes, normal cigarettes in the street

for a quarter of the price that you paid in the real market.

Part two of our interview with Ignacio Leyva

discussing Latin American countries vaping regulations

will air next Tuesday on 21st of March on GFN TV.