Chapters:0:00 - Intro with Joanna Junak 0:27 - Ignacio Leiva on Ecuador's vaping laws 4:00 - Costa Rica restricts vaping and smoking under same law 5:23 - Panama clamps down on vaping imports 6:56 - Colombia and Peru have no specific regulations restricting vapes 10:08 - Venezuela treats vaping products as tobacco products 11:16 - Chile places control of nicotine in hands of pharamaceutical industry 13:19 - Vaping push for positive vape law changes in Chile 18:13 - Are more vaping restrictions on the horizon? 20:35 - Closing remarks
This is part two of our interview with Ignacio Leiva, where we explore Latin American vaping
regulations. If you haven't already watched it, go check out part one of this interview
on the GFN YouTube channel. Let's go now to countries like Costa Rica, Panama, and Ecuador.
Can you briefly summarize the regulations? What differences in vaping law do you see
in each of them? I know what's going on now in Ecuador. They
are treated as tobacco product in the law. The bad thing with that is that in Ecuador,
tobacco products and vaping products and accessories have, hear me well, because this is not a
mistake, 300% taxes. 300% in taxes. What makes it barely impossible to let the industry survive.
In the past, I'm not defending tobacco. We are all against tobacco. We are defending
the not heated nicotine products, THR products. But to understand how difficult it is for
little jobs, there was a huge industry of tobacco in Ecuador, like BAT have production
plants there. Philip Morris have production plants there. But after this change and the
huge taxation, Philip Morris and BAT went out of Ecuador. They are not having business
anymore inside of Ecuador. The same happened to the little jobs. If something like Philip
Morris or BAT are not able to survive with this amount of taxation, it's impossible for
little jobs to survive needing to pay 300% of taxes. What happened with that, many of
the jobs were closed, but also many of them continue working. I know it's difficult for
people in Europe to understand these situations, but they continue working, but just not paying
the taxes, finding the way to do it against the law. And the position of the government
of Ecuador, I must say that it's very disappointing because they made this law and they said that
it kept being a success because people have lowered down the smoking rate in 60%. But
it's not true because they are basing this cessation in the amount of taxes that they
got. But what happened in reality is that the black market has been growing and growing
and growing and the users keep smoking, keep vaping, but the government got no idea how
many people still smoke. If you're looking, not how many people continue smoking, only
how much taxes the people it's paying. There is a huge problem there. The products don't
need, I mean, the vaping products don't need any kind of registration. They just pass through
and they just about to pay the taxes. So the market continue. There is a huge black market
in Ecuador, it's time bigger. And even many of the tops are working beside the law more
than respecting it. Then we have the case of Costa Rica. They also have, they are treated
by like tobacco products. There is Asovape Costa Rica. They have been working very hard
in the process. But anyway, the anti-vaping organizations supported, we all know by Bloomberg,
Tobacco Free Kids and all these organizations have a lot of power. They are paying, some
months ago, they put a new taxation on vaping of 25%. And now they are discussing for, wait
a second, I need to sing the word in English, plain packaging. They have now to put 50%
of warnings in the packaging, but now they are fighting for plain packaging for e-cigarettes
and vaping. Anyway, the market, it's going quite okay. There are jobs there. There are
online jobs too. There are no problems for the users to access to the product.
Panama. Panama, it's another case of products treated like tobacco. This was a decree that
was made on 2014. The biggest problems that they have, it's that they have restrictions
for the importation. Sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry. Just, yeah, yeah. They have restriction
for the amount of importing products for the users and for the industry. You can only import
three items. So you need to get a lot, a lot of packages. It's like, if you're a user,
you can get one device and two liquids in one packaging, but make it very hard. In Panama,
they are very, they have a very strict law over tobacco, what affects also the e-cigarettes.
And you can't vape in any place where you can't smoke. And in Panama, there are barely
no places where you can smoke. So in theory, you can vape barely anywhere. In the practice,
as many things in Latin America, it doesn't work like that. And people smoke and vape
Are there any Latin American countries with no regulations or with regulations in progress?
Actually, we have mainly three countries that are going through regulation. It's Peru, Colombia,
and Chile. They have some little difference. In the case of Colombia and Peru, they don't
have any kind of regulation today. And what is not forbidden, it's allowed. You understand
what I mean? If the law doesn't forbid something, you are allowed to do it. So actually in Peru
and Colombia, there is a very healthy industry. There is a lot of jobs. Users don't have any
problem to access to these products.
Paraguay have a different perspective and point of view. They have now a regulation
that it's not treated as a tobacco product. It's a little close to TPD. They have many
things that are very close to TPD, like the 20 milligrams max nicotine. They need to registrate
every product, which has been a little problematic for the industry because the process, it's
very slow to do it. But the biggest problem that it's in Paraguay now, and that's why
it's not like super good that have this kind of regulation. They put something very not
fair, I would say, that it's that every single job that will sell e-cigarettes need to be
registered. Something that not even tobacco needs to do. And they expect that every single
place where sells e-cigarette, they need to have in the nominee of workers, pharmaceutical
chemical to process whatever they think that they need to process, like in a pharma. And
that's too expensive for many, many tops and places that will be selling e-cigarettes.
So that's the biggest trouble that they're facing now. They have also an association
of consumers there, Asobe Paraguay. And what they have told me is that the things are going
in a very good way, trying to put down this restriction. They have a meeting with the
minister last week and they said that they went very, very okay. So we're expecting that
that very bad situation in Paraguay goes down. Anyway, until now, Paraguay have a very healthy
industry. The users can access easily to products. We all know that Venezuela lives under a dictatorship,
so the things works very different. They applied regulation over vaping, but it treat them
like a product. It make it equal to tobacco, but it's more basic in the economy side than
in taxation and that kind of stuff. So they have a regulation now. We're very happy for
the people of Venezuela, but it's difficult to explain or to try to apply because it's
obviously when you live outside of democracy, the process are super different and it doesn't
have to do with the pressure of the civilians or you know what it is. It's difficult, but
they have also a regulation and we are very happy that the industry is working out in
What about your own country, Chile?
Again in Chile, it's a little different. Even if there is no regulation on vaping, on 2010
there was a decree with force of law made by the Minister of Health that put the nicotine
in hands only of the pharmacies. So in Chile, the only way to sell nicotine, it's on pharma.
That was done on 2010. We all know that big pharma is one of the biggest enemies of e-cigarettes.
So you can imagine how many milliliters of nicotine have been sold in 13 years in Chile.
That will be zero because obviously what they did with this decree was just to block a way
to block after they couldn't ban the e-cigarettes in Chile while they were trying to ban it
in Brazil, Argentina and Peru was the same in Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay was the same
intention in Chile. We were lucky to be able to fight on 2010. They were not able to ban
e-cigarettes at that moment, but in a very dark and hidden move, the Minister of Health
made the ESPA, that it's the Institute of Health Public, made this decree putting the
nicotine kind of in a very gray side. So even if in Chile there is a huge market of e-cigarettes
with a lot of formal and online shops, they can't sell nicotine. But as many things that
happen in Latin America, it means more that they couldn't. So you can access the products
How does it affect users of safer nicotine products?
Now we are in the process in Chile of fighting for a good regulation. There were different
projects of law, some in the Chamber of Senators, others in the Chamber of Deputies. Finally,
they all merged now in one discussion. That discussion has been very, very hard in Chile.
We have a very big pressure from the anti-vaping side that wants to treat the e-cigarettes
as a tobacco product. During the process, it has been really like a roller coaster.
Sometimes we are very high, sometimes we are very down. We are in the middle of that. What
I could say about the last movements in Chile, finally they put us in the law of tobacco,
in tobacco's law, but we were able to fight to have a very clear differentiation between
cigarettes and e-cigarettes. Actually, we get out the word e-cigarettes, and now we
are talking about electronic systems of nicotine or electronic systems without nicotine.
There are five points that are very hard in the fight. Three of them, we just win them
some months ago, but have to do first with the differentiation between tobacco and electronic
cigarettes. Then it came the advertising article, where they want to forbid it in the same way
that they have forbidden the tobacco publicity. We were able to advance a lot in that situation,
and there will be restrictions on the advertisement on e-cigarettes, but they were not able to
ban it. They won't be able to ban it if this doesn't change in the process of this project
of law, because it will be inconstitutional. There was a third thing, and I should be happy
but I'm not. The last article that we were discussing in Chile had to do with the warnings
in the packaging, and the government totally lost that article. We were really able to
use this word in politics, but that's why you will understand that I'm not happy about
it. We totally smacked them in the discussion. They were totally, totally down, and it was
100% good for vaping, that part of the article, so I'm a little scared what will happen with
the two articles that we need to discuss further. One has to do with the levels of nicotine,
maximum level of nicotine. They want to put it in 20 milligrams, but also they want to
put a maximum amount of size of e-liquids to be sold, to 10 ml, but they want to apply
it with nicotine or without nicotine. It will affect very badly the industry, the users,
but also it will be a very huge problem for the environment. We're talking about putting
off tons of plastic with these kind of resolutions. Then we have the last article to be discussed
during the next month. It's about labeling. They want to forbid to set in the labeling
that e-cigarettes are less harmful than normal cigarettes. That's the situation in Chile.
We are in the second part of the process. The main project came from the Chamber of
Senators. Now we are discussing in the Commission of Health the Chamber of Deputies, and we
are there. We are there in the fight, advancing some days more, some days less, but we hope
during the end of this year or starting the next year, we will finally have a regulation
for e-cigarettes, and at least we will be able to know what are the rules to go through.
Are you worried that the regulations may end with banning safer nicotine products?
In the case of Peru, they have three projects of law actually running. There were a lot
more, but they have been placed all together. There are two that are very bad for vaping.
Both of them try to treat e-cigarettes as tobacco products, but there is a third one
that is being placed by Asobe Peru. There is also an association of users, and they
are in the middle of the discussion right now, and we are hoping the best for Peru.
In the case of Colombia, they are very advanced as Chile. They are discussing right now the
fight there. It's being held by Francisco Ordóñez from Asobe Colombia, also president
of ARDT. They have been doing very good work. It's something that is for sure in the case
of Chile and in the case of Colombia, that there is no way to go to a process where e-cigarettes
could be banned or something like that. It's not something that worries us, or it's a risk
for those countries. We are more looking forward to have a regulation that is taking care of
the concept of THR in the projects than having a total ban or having very big problems in
the future. We really expect that those regulations will go very, very well. They have advanced
both in a very good way, and we hope that we won't have very bad news soon. Anyway,
the legislation process is not a science, so you never know until they end how it will
Thank you, Ignacio, for your interesting summary. That's all for today. Don't forget
to book your place at GFN23 to join in the THR discussion yourself. Tune in next time
here on GFN TV or on our GFN TV podcast. Thanks for watching or listening. See you next time.