Thursday, May 23, 2024

Russia Considers Ban on E-cigarette Additives: Industry Voices Concerns

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In a press conference, Artyom Metchelyov, Chairman of the Youth Policy Committee of the State Duma of Russia, announced that the Russian Ministry of Health will soon submit a bill to the Russian Cabinet for review, which aims to ban the use of additives in e-cigarettes.

This list of substances banned from increasing the appeal of nicotine-containing liquids includes:

Food additives, herbal flavoring agents, and their derivatives, including vanillin, cocoa and its derivatives, licorice, spices, and any natural flavorings are prohibited. Synthetic sugars and synthetic or natural sweeteners are also prohibited. Additionally, additives that enhance nicotine addiction, such as nicotine salts, ethanol, ammonium, and ammonia, are banned.

According to a report from the Russian newspaper “News Report” on August 8th, the Russian Union of Nicotine-Containing Product Industry (Союз предприятий индустрии никотиносодержащих изделий, abbreviated as СПИНИ) and the Professional Alliance of Participants in the Russian Market of Electronic Nicotine Systems (Профессиональный альянс участников русского рынка электронных никотиновых систем, abbreviated as ПАУРРЭНС) have sent a letter to Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov, requesting the removal of food flavorings and salt-based nicotine from the list of banned substances and additives.

This letter has received support from over 50 industry professionals and experts in the e-cigarette sector. Among them is Lev Grigoriev, Chairman of BABYLON, a leading e-cigarette compliant distributor in Russia, who also opposes the policy change.

Lev Grigoriev stated:

Flavorings are used in all e-cigarette liquids, many of which are not noticeable. Many flavorings are processed using technology and without them, the product would be unusable. In other words, it is illogical to completely ban all flavorings as there is no similar situation in the world.

The Ministry of Health recommends exclusively using liquid products containing propylene glycol and glycerol, much like suggesting a complete ban on all types of alcohol such as wine, liquor, brandy, and so on, and only utilizing pure ethanol.

The second recommendation concerns nicotine salts. What are nicotine salts? From a chemical standpoint, they are simply nicotine. So why does the Ministry of Health believe they can be addictive? Addiction is not caused by nicotine itself, but rather by its concentration.

The recommendation from the Ministry of Health is unlikely to solve the problem it claims to address – reducing the accessibility of nicotine products for minors and teenagers. Examples of similar bans include snus, a tobacco product in Sweden. Although snus is still available on the market, it is supplied illegally without the payment of taxes. This significantly impacts consumers who may be exposed to low-quality and unsafe products. Similarly, if the use of nicotine salts and flavorings is prohibited, the situation would likely be comparable.

What are the recommendations from industry experts regarding the market? It is not to completely ban all flavors, as e-cigarettes are composed of various substances.

Taking into account that minors make up approximately 11.2% of all e-cigarette consumers, we are actively striving to restrict accessibility to underage individuals. However, under the current circumstances, this measure would affect around 90% of adult users.

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