Associations affirm that the law against electronic cigarettes encourages the use of traditional tobacco

The Association for the Reduction of Harm due to Smoking of Panama and the Association of Smokers and Family Members for a Smoke-Free Panama, reject the sanction by the President of the Republic, Laurentino Cortizo, of the law that prohibits electronic cigarettes and other devices without combustion alternatives to cigarettes and warn that this decision will continue to encourage more than 280,000 smokers to continue smoking traditional cigarettes in the country, with all the implications that this can generate for the health of the person and their families.

Both associations agree that banning electronic nicotine delivery systems, electronic cigarettes, vaporizers, tobacco heaters and the like, with or without nicotine, is totally nonsensical when these alternatives are demonstrably less harmful than combustion cigarettes; a finding that is agreed with by top international authorities such as the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the health authorities of the Governments of the United Kingdom, New Zealand, to name a few.

Hitler Cigarruista, president of the Association of Smokers and Family Members for a Smoke-Free Panama, said that the sanction by President Cortizo is contradictory to the support he used in May 2020 when he partially vetoed this same initiative.

“Just 2 years ago, the president pointed out that, by choosing the absolute ban on electronic cigarettes, vaporizers and the like, as a measure to control their commercialization, the State lost the possibility of activating customs and tax collection mechanisms that could finance the programs to guarantee compliance with regulatory issues related to tobacco”, questioned Cigarruista.

Cigarruista added that “with his signature he has sanctioned a law that violates the right of more than 280,000 Panamanian smokers to have access to low-risk alternatives such as electronic cigarettes and tobacco heaters, in turn perpetuating the highly harmful effects of smoking. secondhand smoke in almost a million people who live with smokers”.

Tomás Sánchez, president of the Association for the Reduction of Harm due to Smoking of Panama, adds to Cigarruista’s arguments and adds that, in addition, in that veto President Cortizo recognized that currently the illicit trade of combustible cigarettes in Panama monopolizes 80 % of the total market or 55 million packs per year. This represents around $165 million annually in money laundering and exposes consumers to products without any type of regulation or sanitary control.

Sánchez mentions that the president has recognized that, although the sale of electronic cigarettes has been prohibited in Panama since 2009, these products are purchased abroad where their sale is allowed, or they are purchased online.

“With this sanction, a message is being sent to the illicit market that smuggling is allowed in Panama, thus violating all the international agreements that Panama has signed to combat smuggling,” warned Sánchez.

The president of the Association for the Reduction of Harm due to Smoking of Panama pointed out that, with this sanction, President Cortizo condemns smokers to continue using combustion cigarettes. “There are no alternatives for them, while in the rest of the world they have access to less harmful e-cigarettes and other non-combustible devices,” he said.

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