With the recent ban on the use and marketing of electronic cigarettes in Venezuela, more countries in the Americas are adopting measures in line with the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) to protect the health of their populations from novel tobacco products. “The resolution that regulates new and emerging nicotine and tobacco products in Venezuela is an important step forward for the country and for the region,” said Dr Anselm Hennis, Director of Non-Communicable Diseases Mental Health at the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO/WHO). “We hope that this measure motivates other countries to take action on these products, which are addictive, harmful and aggressively advertised towards the youngest,” he added.
Only 21 countries in the Americas regulate electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), such as e-cigarettes and vapes, in some way. Eight of them (Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela) prohibit their sale, while the other 13 have partially or totally adopted one or more regulatory measures. Meanwhile, 14 countries lack any regulation of these products.
Last June, a previous resolution of the Venezuelan Ministry of Popular Power for Health banned the sale of vapes to minors. Now, the August 1 resolution prohibits “the manufacture, storage, distribution, circulation, commercialization, importation, exportation, use, consumption, advertising, promotion and sponsorship of ENDS and electronic non-nicotine delivery systems (ENNDS)”, as well as their “consumables”, “accessories”, and “heated tobacco products”.
E-cigarettes are the most common form of electronic nicotine delivery systems. When used, they heat a liquid to create aerosols that are inhaled by the user. These “e-liquids” contain nicotine, a highly addictive substance found in tobacco, and other additives, flavorings and chemicals, some of which are toxic to the health of both the user and those exposed to them.
PAHO/WHO recommend that governments implement regulations in line with the provisions of the FCTC and its decisions, such as prohibiting the marketing of ENDS, including their importation, distribution or sale, as well as regulations on their use in public places, prohibiting their advertising and promotion, taxing them, and other regulations similar to those applied to tobacco products. Tobacco kills one million people in the Region of the Americas per year. While measures taken since the FCTC came into force in 2005 have reduced the percentage of smokers from 28 per cent of the total population in 2000 to 16.3 per cent in 2020, these achievements are threatened by novel tobacco and nicotine products. Currently, 11.3 per cent of adolescents between 13 and 15 years of age in the region use tobacco, compared to the world average of 10.3 per cent.