Argentina bans the sale and import of e-cigarettes
The Ministry of Health of Argentina has issued a resolution that bans the import, sale, distribution, and advertising of electronic cigarettes and their accessories, citing the potential harm these products can cause to public health. The resolution signed by Health Minister Carla Vizzotti prohibits the use of electronic devices intended for inhaling tobacco vapors or aerosols, including “Heated Tobacco Products” (HTPs), which consist of a tobacco stick and a battery-powered tobacco heating device.
The decision was made based on the risks involved in using these products, and the resolution covers all types of accessories and tobacco sticks to be heated. The Ministry has expressed concern that tobacco companies have introduced new alternative products, such as electronic devices for smoking or inhaling aerosols with or without nicotine, to the market. These products are commonly used as replacements, especially in places where smoking is prohibited.
According to the health department, electronic cigarettes or HTPs produce aerosols with nicotine and other harmful chemicals such as acetaldehyde, acrolein, and formaldehyde, which can be potentially harmful to health. In addition, the resolution highlighted that the use of these devices not only represents a potential risk for individuals with cardiovascular pathologies but can also induce a dependence on nicotine in new users.
The Ministry of Health is also concerned about the attraction of HTPs to children and adolescents. The official document states that novel products such as HTPs and similar products are particularly attractive to children and adolescents, and their introduction into the market has the potential to lead to tobacco initiation in young and non-smoking adults, which threatens the achievements already made in tobacco control.
The consumption of electronic cigarettes in Argentina has been relatively low, with only 1.1% of the adult population using these products, according to the National Risk Factors Survey 2018. However, the percentage increases alarmingly in adolescents, reaching 7% of the population aged 13 to 15 years, according to the 2018 Global Youth Tobacco Survey. In Argentina, the exclusive consumption of electronic cigarettes reached 3% of adolescents, bringing the total prevalence of 2018 to 21%.
The ban on electronic cigarettes is a significant step for Argentina in controlling tobacco consumption, which is harmful not only to the health of its users but also has a significant impact on the country’s public accounts. Tobacco consumption in Argentina generates an annual direct medical cost of more than $196 billion, a cost of lost labor productivity of over $91 billion, and informal care costs of more than $75 billion. The sum of these costs of smoking is equivalent to more than 1.2% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).
In conclusion, the Ministry of Health of Argentina has taken a vital step in protecting public health by banning the sale and import of electronic cigarettes and their accessories. This decision was made based on the potential harm that these products can cause, especially to children and adolescents, who are particularly attracted to them. It is hoped that this ban will contribute to reducing the prevalence of smoking and its associated costs to public health and the country’s economy.