Panama Assembly Votes to Prohibit Vape Sales and Use

Panama’s National Assembly has passed a bill that would prohibit both sales and use of vaping products. The vape product ban could still be vetoed by President Laurentino Cortizo, who vetoed an earlier version of Bill 178.

The new law would ban sales and use of all vaping products, with or without nicotine. The ban would also apply to heated tobacco products (HTPs) like IQOS. The bill was sponsored by the President of the Assembly, Deputy Crispiano Adames.

While the law would not prohibit exports to other countries, or the reshipping of products from Panama to other countries, it would authorize the National Customs Authority to “stop, confiscate and suspend the sale and commercialization of electronic systems in the country,” according to the Assembly. The law would also require businesses to post signs warning that vaping product use is prohibited.

Although Panama had already banned e-cigarette sales in 2014 by executive decree, the new law would go a step further by banning personal use. Many Latin American countries ban sales, but few ban possession by individuals. According to Pro Vapeo Mexico director Roberto Sussman, most Latin American countries with vaping bans have thriving black markets.

The bill is opposed by the Asociación por la Reducción de Daños del Tabaquismo de Panamá (ARDT Panamá), the country’s vaping consumer organization. ARDT Panamá says that the law would send Panamanian vapers to the black market, where products with questionable manufacturing standards are common.

The Republic of Panama has a population of about four million, and is a relatively high-income country. It borders Colombia, connecting North and South America, and its famous Panama Canal bisects the narrow country, allowing easy passage between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

Smokers created vaping without any help from the tobacco industry or anti-smoking crusaders, and vapers have the right to keep innovating to help themselves. My goal is to provide clear, honest information about the challenges vaping faces from lawmakers, regulators, and brokers of disinformation. I recently joined the CASAA board, but my opinions aren’t necessarily CASAA’s, and vice versa. You can find me on Twitter @whycherrywhy

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