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In part two of our Brazil special, Alexandro Lucian walks us through the mayhem of black market vaping sales in Brazil amidst calls for reform of the blanket vaping ban currently in place.


0:00 - Intro with Joanna Junak
0:26 - Brazil's black market problems
4:43 - Vapers hope for regulatory shake-up
6:00 - Is Brazil setting a good example?
10:30 - Closing remarks


00:00:12 --> 00:00:37

Asia Junak: This is part 2 of our interview with Alessandro Lucian, where we explore vaping and smoking in Brazil. If you haven't already watched it, go check out part 1 of this interview on the GFN YouTube channel. It's clear that misinformation around safer nicotine products in Brazil is a problem. And what about the black market? Do you see a big problem in this area?

00:00:37 --> 00:04:44

Alexandro Lucian: Oh, it's huge. The black market doesn't care who is the consumer, if the consumer smokes, if it's an adult or a minor. Because when we think about black markets, there is a risk that anyone who enters this black market as a seller. He doesn't spend money trying to get a good product, to try to invest in quality. They spend money trying to avoid fiscalization, avoid the fees and taxes and legal actions against them. So they want to buy cheap, sell expensive and as fast as possible because there is the risk of getting legal actions and being arrested. So anyone who approaches a legal seller, they will sell no matter who is the person, if it's smokers or not, if it's a minor or not. And we cannot say that vaping is 95% less dangerous, less harmful than smoking in Brazil because it can be as equal or even as harmful as smoking, or even more harmful than smoking because an illegal market presents with fake products An illegal market can offer dangers of contamination of any EVALI because the EVALI was a contamination, a problem that it didn't have any link to nicotine vaping, but it was a product of fake products. So we have a huge possibility of contamination of bad products going to anyone who wants to buy them. And we see those products being sold everywhere. Because I was talking with a consumer in the UK yesterday, and they have specific stores, specialized vaping stores, they can sell in markets, supermarkets or pharmacies. When you find the cigarette, it's possible that you find vaping devices being sold. In Brazil, they are sold in the streets, inside nightclubs. In Brazil we have another phenomenon that you don't have, I don't know, dozens of stores selling a lot of products. You have thousands of micro-sellers, people that are going on YouTube and watching videos teaching them how to buy 10 pieces, 20 pieces, 50 pieces of vaping products to be sold to familiars, to relatives, to friends. So in Brazil you have products being sold not by the entrepreneurs or people that want to invest in a vaping company. There are people that don't know what they are buying, what they are selling, to who they are selling. So it's a chaos, absolutely chaos, with no possibility to know the real dangers and the real risks about vaping in Brazil. That's why we need a regulation different from the prohibition because when we regulate the sales and the importation, we're going to have rules and strict rules. And that's something that I often said, we consumers doesn't want more freedom. By the contrary, we want strict rules to have these products, guarantee safety of those products, knowing what they have inside those devices, What are the substances being used to manufacture these devices? We don't know them to be sold to anyone. We want them to be sold to adult smokers, not minors, of course, never. But an illegal marketer doesn't care about that.

00:04:44 --> 00:04:53

Asia Junak: Looking at the whole situation in Brazil now, we are all waiting for a message from ANVISA. What response do you expect to receive?

00:04:53 --> 00:05:59

Alexandro Lucian: Well, what I expect and what's going to happen are two different things. There is no way of knowing what will actually be done and there is a lot of opposing pressure which has money and power to influence the media and the public opinion to create a scenario of pressure against ANVISA. I hope that ANVISA will be technical, pragmatic and follow scientific evidence, doing the same thing as countries such as Sweden and England and many others, thus regulating vaping in Brazil to allow trade, importation and manufacture under clear rules to protect consumers and especially minors, with mechanisms to defend public health. What it cannot do is continue as it is, which is the worst possible scenario. Everything is prohibited, millions of people are consuming, and the only ones who benefit from this are those in the illegal market, with possible consequences like diseases, contamination, no support for consumers, and of course, it finances violence and criminality.

00:06:01 --> 00:06:11

Asia Junak: Thank you, Alessandro. And the final question. What influence will this decision have on other countries in Latin America? And why is the message so important?

00:06:11 --> 00:10:30

Alexandro Lucian: I think Brazil can have a big influence in every country in Latin America and also in the world, because Brazil is part of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control of the World Health Organization. Brazil was one of the countries that participated and contributed a lot to the FCTC. And we have good numbers, good campaign, anti-tobacco campaign. We had numbers of 50% of smokers in the past decades. Today we have 10% more or less of smokers in Brazil. So the prevalence, it may seem low, but we have to remember that in Brazil we have 250 million people, so any 1% is a lot of people smoking. 10% is almost equal to France, which has 30-35% of prevalence of smoking. So any decision of Brazil about vaping is going to really influence a lot of other countries. I hope that we can be a good influence because we already know what other countries, there are more than 100 countries that already regulate vaping and we see a pattern and we see what is happening to countries that are banning, simple banning, or not regulating vaping. What is happening to these countries? We see the history of the United States when there was no regulation. The problem they had with minors, youth vaping, and EVALI. And after regulation, what happened? Youth vaping decreased 50 percent, led to the lowest smoking rates for the past 50 years. The lowest nicotine consumption rates for the last 50 years. So regulation, it appears to be the best course of action. So we believe that Brazil opting for supporting tobacco harm reduction, which is not giving freedom and putting vaping devices to be sold everywhere. On the contrary, it's getting strict rules to be offering those products only for adult smokers, while protecting minors from accessing these products. Vaping is not risk-free, of course, it's tobacco harm reduction, it's not tobacco harm elimination. But we are seeing countries like England, Canada, New Zealand, Sweden, more than 100 countries being benefited by the decision of supporting harm reduction. So the influence can be very positive if Brazil follows these countries. Or really negative if Brazil keeps trying to make a prohibition, a simple prohibition, even with trying to enforce this prohibition. It's 14 years of simple prohibition. And the numbers show that this prohibition didn't work, if ever. So it doesn't work right now. So we need to be pragmatic about it. We need to understand that people want to have nicotine. Even if they know the risks, they still want to consume those products. And just think that they are wrong. They don't need it. They don't have to do that. It's not enough. The government must understand that people want to drink coffee, to have nicotine, to drink alcohol, but people can have all those things without killing themselves by smoking nicotine, by the combustible cigarettes. They can have nicotine in a very much less harmful way.

00:10:31 --> 00:10:45

Asia Junak: Thank you, Alessandro. 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.