Many countries around the world have passed and promulgated a series of e-cigarette industry-related bills in 2023, many of which are scheduled to be implemented in 2024. From the proposal to the implementation of these new orders that will take effect on January 1, what discussions and struggles have gone through along the way? How do brands, manufacturers, consumers and civil rights groups respond to this?
At the beginning of the new year, 2FIRSTS brings the latest round of industry supervision prospects:
Limit public exposure of brand
As the world's largest e-cigarette market, the United States is regarded as a bellwether by the market. Starting from 2024, e-cigarettes, which have enjoyed differential regulatory treatment, will also be subject to marketing restrictions similar to traditional tobacco:
Starting from January 1, 2024, New York State in the United States will begin to implement stricter marketing restrictions on e-cigarettes and atomization products. Including: the brand name, logo or other identification of e-cigarettes cannot appear on any product other than the actual e-cigarette; gifts related to the purchase of e-cigarettes cannot be provided; brands cannot sponsor events such as sports competitions and concerts.
In addition to marketing methods, the United States will also further reduce the exposure of e-cigarettes to teenagers by restricting the design of the product itself.
In June this year, the governor of Texas signed a House of Representatives bill, stipulating that starting from January 1, 2024, e-cigarettes will be prohibited from using designs that are mainly targeted at minors, such as candy or juice-like appearance packaging; the appearance of e-cigarettes cannot be used to depict children. Cartoon images, symbols or celebrity images used to promote products to minors, etc.
Limit the appeal of flavors to teenagers
In addition to appearance and packaging, taste is also widely regarded as an important aspect of a product's appeal to teenagers.
The Dutch e-cigarette flavor ban, which was passed as early as 2021, will take effect on January 1, 2024. The ban was originally planned to take effect in June 2022, 18 months later than originally planned. According to 2FIRSTS, the Dutch government aims to achieve a smoke-free society in 2040; the government is making every effort to reduce smoking behavior, including raising the price of cigarettes to 10 euros during the current government term.
Starting this year, heated tobacco products will also face flavor restrictions in more countries.
Starting from January 1, 2024, all heated tobacco products other than tobacco flavor will cease to be sold in Bulgaria. The provision was included in an amendment to the country's Tobacco and Tobacco Products Act, which was approved by the House of Representatives without any debate. Additionally, every package of heated tobacco products must display a warning highlighting the risks associated with use.
The update of this amendment is in response to the Tobacco Products Directive issued by the European Union, otherwise the country may face criminal prosecution.
“Immigration ban” and rising taxes
In addition to segmented supervision on taste and marketing, regulatory agencies in many countries have also begun to implement more stringent "package measures" on January 1, thus making it more difficult for certain groups of people to obtain disposable e-cigarettes.
From January 1, 2024, disposable e-cigarettes will be banned from entering Australia.
Starting from the same day, the country will also relax the authority to prescribe e-cigarettes, no longer limited to general practitioners; Australian doctors and nurses will have the right to prescribe e-cigarettes to patients, and patients can purchase them at pharmacies. There is no shortage of criticism for this move. Some observers say prescription is a formality policy in the country. After banning disposable e-cigarettes from entering the country, Australia's legal e-cigarette business, which already has almost no market, is expected to be further compressed. It is reported that the market share of compliant e-cigarettes in Australia is less than 5%.
Some countries have also chosen to reverse the trend of domestic consumers using e-cigarettes by raising taxes.
Starting from January 1, 2024, Belgium will impose a tax on e-cigarette oil at 15 cents per milliliter;
Indonesia's tobacco tax will be increased by 10%, and the consumption tax on e-cigarettes will increase by 15%. After the two are combined, the Indonesian e-cigarette industry will bear a tax rate of close to 30% starting this year.
The extent of the tax increase and the way the decision was made in both countries have caused controversy. Consumers and retailers in Belgium said that this new tax may stimulate consumers to return to traditional cigarettes that are more harmful to health; Garindra Kartasasmita, secretary-general of the Indonesian E-cigarette Industry Association, said Calling the 30% tax "unfair to emerging industries composed of small, medium and micro enterprises". He also said that in the process of planning the implementation of the e-cigarette tax in 2024, domestic rights groups failed to fully participate. The entire decision-making process is "closed door".
Can regulatory segmentation on packaging, marketing, and flavors effectively reverse the trend of youth e-cigarette use? Can a package of "lockdown orders" and high taxes help create a better compliance market? Can the process of issuing new regulatory orders become more transparent globally? Across the industry, can the voices of various stakeholders be better heard? In 2024, we will wait and see.