This week, Brazilian food and drug regulator Agência Nacional de Vigilância Sanitária (ANVISA) opened a public consultation on vaping, finally inviting public comment after several years of promising to do so. Sales and imports of vaping products have been illegal in Brazil since 2009.
The consultation, intended to gather technical and scientific information about vaping products, will remain open until May 11. Vaping consumers should take the opportunity to comment and oppose the country’s current path of prohibition.
There is also a petition, organized by Vapor Aqui founder Alexandro “Hazard” Lucian, asking ANVISA to reverse its position and regulate vaping products. Vapers should sign the petition, which is still slightly short of its 5,000 signature goal.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much chance the government will choose to roll back its vape ban and regulate Brazil’s large informal vaping market. According to Alexandro Lucian, the consultation process is geared toward maintaining the existing ban, and even strengthening it.
ANVISA’s April 4 Regulatory Impact Analysis recommends that the current prohibition be maintained. Legalization and regulation were not even included as an option in the regulatory agency’s report, according to Lucian.
“The document shows 3 possible alternatives: keep things as they are, continue with the ban by adding tougher criteria, or free trade,” writes Lucian in Vapor Aqui (as translated by Google from the original Portuguese). “The suggestion of this partial analysis is the second option, maintaining the ban, changing the text and also including the ban on the manufacture of these products, a detail that was missing in [the 2009 rule that banned vapes] and created a gap in the legislation.”
The ANVISA report will be used as a guide by political leaders for deciding the immediate future of vaping in Brazil. It is possible decision makers will disregard the regulatory agency’s suggestions, and instead seek to legalize sales of vaping products—but that’s not likely. Unfortunately, the odds are good that the government will maintain the existing ban, and probably even strengthen it by closing the legal gap that currently allows domestic e-liquid manufacture.
The same day ANVISA opened its public consultation, FIOCRUZ—the Brazilian health ministry’s science agency—launched an anti-vaping campaign, according to Portal Rondonia. The campaign includes “an online petition encouraging people to demonstrate against the authorization of electronic cigarettes in the Brazilian market,” the news site says. Lucian says the FIOCRUZ petition was probably created in response to the one organized by Vapor Aqui.
Despite the government’s antagonistic approach, Brazil has a large informal vaping market, as do many Latin American countries with vape bans on the books. With a population of close to 215 million people—the sixth largest country in the world—enforcing such a ban is nearly impossible, especially when vaping is simply not a major public issue.