Survey of laws on new tobacco products in Latin America and the Caribbean available

The multinational tobacco companies have been aggressively promoting new tobacco products including e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products around the world. Now Eric Crosbie and his colleagues at the University of Nevada Reno and the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids just published “New tobacco and nicotine products in Latin America and the Caribbean: assessing the market and regulatory environment” that provides a detailed survey of the legal status of those products in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Of the 33 countries in the region over half (7/33=21%) have banned e-cigarettes and another 11 have regulated them; 15 (45%) do not regulate them. Overall, however, the restrictions are pretty broad (map above).

Heated tobacco products, which are solely made by the multinational tobacco companies, have been officially launched in 5 countries, banned in 3 and are regulated as tobacco products in most others (map below).

The paper also has a detailed summary of the individual laws and data on youth prevalence of e-cigarette use. (Unfortunately, they do not include a statistical analysis relating youth prevalence to the kind of regulation — or lack of — in the different countries.

Like the rest of the world, the picture is mixed. Some countries have been aggressively working to keep these new products our or applying restrictions that apply to older tobacco products while others are not yet engaging with them at all. The fact that many countries’ tobacco control laws were adopted before these new products appeared often creates loopholes that the tobacco companies are exploiting. Overall Crosbie and his colleagues conclude:

[New tobacco products]are emerging in the LAC region, causing concern about their usage, especially among youth. Based on the precautionary principle, governments should follow [FCTC] COP decisions to ban or regulate them as tobacco products; otherwise [these new products] could create a new generation of tobacco and nicotine users and undermine the important progress made in the last 20 years combating the tobacco epidemic.

The paper is also available in Spanish as a supplemental file on the Tobacco Control website and here.

The University of Nevada Reno put out a press release on the paper:

December 16, 2021

Researchers recommend tighter regulation of new tobacco and nicotine products in Latin America and the Caribbean

 Study: E-cigarettes, heated tobacco threaten to create a new generation of tobacco users

RENO, Nevada – Countries across Latin America should either ban or substantially tighten regulation of new tobacco products such as electronic cigarettes and heated tobacco products, recommends a new study led by a researcher at the University of Nevada, Reno.

Currently, the study finds Latin American and Caribbean countries are taking wildly divergent approaches toward the regulation of new tobacco products, Dr. Eric Crosbie, an assistant professor in the University’s School of Public Health and the Ozmen Institute for Global Studies, said.

The new regional analysis is important because it helps show how deeply the new tobacco and nicotine products are penetrating markets in the region and helps identify the government regulations that may be most effective in battling their adoption, says Crosbie.

Without tighter regulation or an outright ban on new tobacco products, Latin American and Caribbean nations could face the creation of a new generation of tobacco and nicotine users, cautions the study to be published in the journal Tobacco Control.

Crosbie, who specializes in the study of the ways that business interests drive the spread of non-communicable diseases, says consumption of traditional tobacco products such as cigarettes is falling globally. That leads tobacco companies to ramp up promotion of new tobacco and nicotine products, sometimes under the guise that they are useful tools for smokers who want to quit.

“These new tobacco and nicotine products, which are promoted by the companies as cessation devices to help smokers quit, are in reality a new way to recruit new tobacco and nicotine users,” Crosbie said.

In response to the introduction of new tobacco and nicotine products, the new study finds, Latin American and Caribbean governments are undertaking a variety of regulatory approaches.

More than half of the 33 countries in the region, for instance, regulate e-cigarettes as conventional tobacco products. But a substantial minority of countries don’t regulate them at all.

Regulation of heated tobacco products, meanwhile, ranges from complete bans in Mexico, Brazil and Panama to a complete lack of control in a handful of countries that have no tobacco-control legislation at all for these products.

Conventional tobacco products such as cigarettes, chewing tobacco or cigars fall under the purview of a global treaty known as the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control spearheaded by the World Health Organization. It recommends evidence-based measures such as product bans or tighter regulation to reduce tobacco use.

But because the new tobacco and nicotine products were introduced after the Framework Convention was established in 2005, governments are tasked with regulating these products similar to conventional tobacco products, Crosbie noted.  That puts more importance on the regulatory measures taken in individual countries, not only in Latin America and the Caribbean but across the globe.

Other researchers joining Crosbie in the study were Brian Tran of the University’s School of Public Health and Gianella Severini, Alexandra Beem, and Dr. Ernesto Sebrie of the Campaign for Tobacco – Free Kids in Washington, D.C.

Here is the abstract for the paper.

Objective: To document the regulatory environment of new tobacco and nicotine products (NTNPs), including electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) and heated tobacco products (HTPs), in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC).

Methods: Review of market research reports and databases, regulatory websites, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, relevant published literature and the 2021 WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic.

Results: ENDS entered the LAC market in the 2010s and are now available in most LAC countries. A majority of LAC countries (n=18) have either banned the commercialisation of ENDS (n=7) or regulated ENDS as tobacco products (n=7), medicinal products (n=1) or consumer products (n=3). The remaining LAC countries (n=15) do not regulate ENDS. HTPs were first introduced in 2017 and have been officially launched in five countries (Colombia, Guatemala, Dominican Republic, Mexico and Costa Rica). Few countries have banned HTP commercialisation (n=3) or regulated commercialisation and use (n=7), while the majority of countries have existing legislation that applies to HTPs (n=19). A few countries (n=4) have no tobacco control legislation and therefore do not regulate HTPs.

Conclusion: NTNPs are emerging products in the LAC region. Governments should follow WHO guidance and the decisions of the Conference of Parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and ban or regulate NTNPs as tobacco products; otherwise NTNPs could create a new generation of tobacco and nicotine users.

The full cite is Crosbie E, Severini G, Beem A, Tran B, Sebrie EM. New tobacco and nicotine products in Latin America and the Caribbean: assessing the market and regulatory environment. Tob Control. 2021 Dec 16:tobaccocontrol-2021-056959. doi: 10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2021-056959. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 34916305. It is available here.

Published by Stanton Glantz

Stanton Glantz is a retired Professor of Medicine who served on the University of California San Francisco faculty for 45 years. He conducts research on tobacco and cannabis control and cardiovascular disease/

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