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World Vaping News: Several Countries Report High E-Cig Sales, Some Look to Regulatory Shifts

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While we mainly focus on domestic vaping news, we’ve been seeing some action pop up internationally just in time for summer vacation travels. Here’s the latest that came across the wire in May.

We start off with good news in Asia, as e-cigarette sales are up in South Korea. More people than ever are making the switch from analog cigarettes, and the country’s Ministry of Economy and Finance reports that e-cigarette sales comprised 21.3% of all cigarette sales in March. That is a huge rise from Q1, where e-cig sales amounted to 10.9% in the same comparison.

Regulations aren’t just a discussion in the U.S., as the home of the e-cigarette, China, is looking to further its regulatory efforts. China’s decision makers filed a 68-page regulation standard report last week, published by the World Trade Organization. Yahoo! Finance says there was no specified date for when the standards would be implemented in the report, however the document said, “This standard specifies the terms and definitions, technical requirements, test methods, packaging, identification, instructions, storage and transportation of electronic cigarette.”

As JUUL and other vaping manufacturers make their way across additional worldwide markets, they want regulations changed to allow for higher nicotine levels — this time the EU is in the news. Currently, the EU’s levels aren’t as high as in the United States — 20 mg per ml compared to 59 in the U.S. — and JUUL’s EMEA President Grant Winterton makes the point that Europe’s regulatory backlash isn’t the same as in the U.S., CNBC reports. Winterton says the lower amounts of nicotine make vaping “less effective as an alternative to cigarettes for heavy smokers.”

“We will put forward our position that we think the limit should be increased,” Winterton said. “We do not see at this time some of the issues that have been raised in the United States,” Winterton told CNBC. JUUL’s plans include launches in Ireland and multiple Asia locations by the end of 2019, then making its way to the Middle East and Africa in 2020 and 2021, respectively.

Longtime vaping advocate Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos, a researcher at Onassis Cardiac Surgery Centre in Athens, is a top Greek cardiologist and harm reduction expert in our field. He recently went to the Phillippine government, asking them for regulations instead of a total e-cig ban. In an interview in Makati City where he spoke during the 50th Annual Convention and Scientific Meeting of Asia Pacific Society of Cardiology 2019 Congress, he made many good points for regulation, as reported by the Manila Standard:

  • Other countries are lifting bans. He cited Switzerland, Belgium, New Zealand, Canada and Europe of positive examples of regulatory efforts.
  • Lack of regulation has hurt the industry. Without regulation, there is no control. “We fully support the need for regulation because all consumer products are regulated. We want smokers to use them [e-cigarettes] in an effort to quit smoking.”
  • Banning communicates misleading messages and discourages smokers to make the switch. Additionally, it creates black markets and unregulated underground industries.
  • Nicotine is not the enemy, he says, “because even WHO [the World Health Organization] allows the use of nicotine gums and nicotine patches as a tool to quit smoking.

Finally we head to Guam, where lawmakers are looking at total bans. Officials in Guam are looking to ban vaping in public in fear that marijuana, which is illegal, could be delivered through devices, as reported by Pacific Daily News. Bill 138 was introduced last week by Sen. Amanda Shelton (D-Asan) with several co-sponsors. This would be an amendment to the Natasha Protection Act of 2005, which bans tobacco products in public places, adding e-cigs to the law.