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Brazil Votes to Maintain & Update Vape Ban 

On April 19, Brazilian officials unanimously voted to maintain the existing e-cigarette ban. The Agência Nacional de Vigilância Sanitária (ANVISA), the country’s food and drug regulator, has expressed a strong anti-vape stance for decades. 

In 2009, Brazil became one of the few countries to prohibit e-cigarettes and related products entirely. It banned Brazilians from manufacturing, selling, importing, and advertising vapes.  Argentina, Ethiopia, Gambia, and India are also part of this exclusive group.  

The recent board meeting resulted in a resolution[mtn]“RESOLUÇÃO DA DIRETORIA COLEGIADA -RDC No 855, DE 23 DE ABRIL DE 2024 – RESOLUÇÃO DA DIRETORIA COLEGIADA -RDC No 855, DE 23 DE ABRIL DE 2024 – DOU – Imprensa Nacional,” web.archive.org, Apr. 24, 2024. https://web.archive.org/web/20240424215434/https://www.in.gov.br/en/web/dou/-/resolucao-da-diretoria-colegiada-rdc-n-855-de-23-de-abril-de-2024-555721206[/mtn] that strengthens the existing ban. The new clause, active from May 2, bans the “manufacture, import, sale, distribution, storage, transportation and advertising” of all heated tobacco products. 

The language is deliberately ambiguous, allowing officials to interpret the law whichever way suits their cause. 

PAHO, the Pan American Health Organization, applauded ANVISA’s decision. Socorro Gross, a representative from PAHO, said, “The resolution protects, saves lives, effectively promotes public health, and is a crucial step towards a healthier and safer environment for all people.”[mtn]“PAHO congratulates Anvisa’s decision that maintains a ban on electronic smoking devices in Brazil – PAHO/WHO | Pan American Health Organization,” www.paho.org, Apr. 19, 2024. https://www.paho.org/en/news/19-4-2024-paho-congratulates-anvisas-decision-maintains-ban-electronic-smoking-devices-brazil#:~:text=Brazil%20is%20among%20the%20eight[/mtn]

Given the decade-long ban on e-cigarettes, we have to wonder why Brazilian officials want to add an addendum to what should be a black-and-white law. Unsurprisingly, Brazil has fallen victim to one of the most common problems that arise when prohibiting e-cigarettes; the ban has created a thriving black market.  

Online retailers and small brick-and-mortar stores were unruffled by the 2009 ban and continue to sell illicit vape products to this day. A 2019 study found, ten years after the ban, that there were 0.6 million e-cigarette users in Brazil[mtn]N. Bertoni et al., “Electronic cigarettes and narghile users in Brazil: Do they differ from cigarettes smokers?,” Addictive Behaviors, vol. 98, p. 106007, Nov. 2019, doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.addbeh.2019.05.031.[/mtn]. It also found that around 80% of those who consumed e-cigarettes were between 18 and 34 years old. 

Another study found that 4 million Brazilians have vaped[mtn]“4 milhões de brasileiros já usaram cigarro eletrônico no Brasil e a maioria vê propaganda na TV,” VáPorAqui, Dec. 08, 2023. https://www.vaporaqui.net/4-milhoes-de-brasileiros-ja-usaram-cigarro-eletronico-no-brasil-e-a-maioria-ve-propaganda-na-tv/[/mtn] at some point in their lives. Regardless of how many Brazilians use e-cigarettes, the studies both show that the initial ban did little to deter the trade of vape products. 

The dichotomy between the law and the reality of the black market has not escaped public notice. However, studies into the effectiveness of the ban appear to agree that it was a net positive[mtn]A. C. A. Maia, Daury Cesar Fabriz, T. A. Motta, V. F. Zanotelli, and B Zamprogno, “Ban on electronic cigarettes in Brazil: a policy in favor of human rights,” vol. 30, no. Supplement_5, Sep. 2020, doi: https://doi.org/10.1093/eurpub/ckaa166.1223.[/mtn] because it protects adolescents[mtn]A. L. O. da Silva and J. C. Moreira, “A proibição dos cigarros eletrônicos no Brasil: sucesso ou fracasso?,” Ciência & Saúde Coletiva, vol. 24, pp. 3013–3024, Aug. 2019, doi: https://doi.org/10.1590/1413-81232018248.24282017.[/mtn] and the public as a whole. 

In 2022, ANVISA acknowledged the problem. It produced a technical report that detailed the importance of maintaining the ban and adding additional measures to curb the sale of illicit e-cigarettes online and in person. One year later, ANVISA’s representatives have put their plan into action. 
Philip Moris, one of the major players in Brazil’s tobacco scene, released a statement saying that the ban on e-cigarettes is “out of step with the uncontrolled growth of the illicit market.”[mtn]PODER360, “Decisão da Anvisa não combate mercado ilegal, diz Philip Morris,” Poder360, Apr. 19, 2024. https://www.poder360.com.br/poder-saude/decisao-da-anvisa-nao-combate-mercado-ilegal-diz-philip-morris/[/mtn] The press release continued, “Results released by several health agencies around the world prove that they [e-cigarettes] may pose less risk than conventional cigarettes.”

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Lexi Burgess
Lexi Burgess
I keep my ear to the ground to report on Vaping, emerging health research, and new vape legislation. When the ever-changing landscape of the vape industry isn’t on my mind, I play badminton and read old horror novels.
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