Kazakhstan Considers Total Ban on Vaping Amid Youth Epidemic
Kazakhstan is considering legislation to completely prohibit the sale, import, export, and production of vapes, e-cigarettes, and associated vaping liquids and flavorings (announced on Saturday, July 29, on the website of the Respublica party.). This decisive proposed ban follows efforts by legislators and health advocates seeking to combat exponentially rising vaping rates among Kazakh youth. However, the vaping industry opposes such sweeping restrictions.
Total Vaping and E-Cigarette Ban
In May 2022, Member of Parliament Nurgul Tau formally submitted a request to Prime Minister Alikhan Smailov urging a comprehensive ban on vapes in Kazakhstan. Tau cited an interdepartmental commission vote of 12-2 in favor of wide-ranging prohibitions on manufacturing, sales, and import/export.
Tau’s initiative stems from public calls to tackle surging adolescent usage of vaping products. She aims to spearhead amending Kazakhstan’s legislation to enact sweeping bans, arguing such action is essential to protecting children’s health amid the vaping epidemic.
According to Kazakhstan’s Finance Ministry, the domestic turnover of vapes has explosively grown 300-fold over the past two years. Consumption of vaping products has also sharply risen among Kazakh children and teenagers during this period.
Around 3 million e-cigarette and vape devices were imported into Kazakhstan in just the last 2.5 years alone. Officials warn vaping carries proven risks of respiratory and nervous system damage, as well as potential mutations.
Russia Restrictions on Vape Sales
Neighboring Russia enacted legislation in June 2022 banning the sale of vaping products to minors under age 18. Additionally, Russia prohibited vape sales at public venues like fairs and exhibitions.
Russian legislators characterized safeguarding youth from nicotine addiction as a foremost priority after appeals from parents, teachers, and public health advocates. However, vape sales continue rising in Russia despite imposed restrictions.
Vaping Industry Strongly Resists
Lobbyists representing Kazakhstan’s vaping industry interests have thus far unsuccessfully sought to prevent enactment of a blanket ban on manufacturing and sales. But Tau and other legislative champions vow continued efforts to outlaw vapes through the parliamentary process.
Critics argue an absolute prohibition could perversely increase demand for dangerous illicit vaping products smuggled into the country. Some contend targeted education campaigns and regulated retail access could offer more balanced alternatives.
Exemptions and Compromises
While promoted as a total ban, the final legislation could allow tightly restricted vape sales only in licensed specialty shops with stringent age verification requirements. Additionally, flavors demonstrated to appeal substantially to youth may be prohibited.
Lawmakers aim to strike a regulatory balance that discourages adolescent vaping usage while maintaining controlled adult access to vapes for smoking cessation purposes. Ongoing parliamentary debate will determine the ultimate scope and provisions of the enacted policy.