E-cigarettes to be regulated as tobacco product in Vietnam

HANOI: Many ministries and sectors affirmed that heated cigarettes are a tobacco product and therefore fall under the Law on Prevention and Control of Harmful Effects of Tobacco based on legal documents applied since 2012.

In fact, issues about electronic cigarettes and heated tobacco have been receiving attention from ministries, the Government and National Assembly for years.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade has been assigned the task of presiding and co-ordinating with ministries and ministerial-level agencies to develop appropriate regulations to manage these products on the basis of harmonising the interests of relevant entities.

To effectively manage the tobacco product, the Law on Prevention and Control of Harmful Effects of Tobacco is being analysed by the parties to evaluate its correlation with each type of product, specifically electronic and heated cigarettes.

The law’s article 2.1 regulates: “Tobacco is a product produced from all or part of tobacco ingredients, processed in the form of cigarettes, cigars, tobacco, pipe tobacco or other forms.”

The article 2.3 adds: "Tobacco raw materials are tobacco leaves in loose form, sheets that have been pre-processed and separated from stems, tobacco fibres, tobacco stems and other substitute materials used to produce cigarettes."

Thus, the law stipulates that only the ingredients of a product should be considered to determine it as "cigarette," not considering the production process or usage of each different types of products, whether cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco or other forms such as heated tobacco.

During the recent implementation of this law, there have been no additional documents regulating this content, demonstrating consistency in interpretation and implementation.

On the basis of existing legal documents applied since 2012, many ministries and branches affirm that heated cigarettes are a tobacco product. Thus, heated tobacco is under the scope of the Law on Prevention and Control of Harmful Effects of Tobacco, similar to cigarettes, cigars and pipe tobacco.

Instead of using a lighter to burn directly like smoking a cigarette, heated tobacco uses a device that heats the tobacco material, creating nicotine.

In a seminar on new types of cigarettes, Le Dai Hai, vice director of civil and economic law department (Ministry of Justice) said: "For heated tobacco, we confirmed that it is a tobacco product because it is made from tobacco ingredients, then inserted into the device for smoking.”

In the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), “tobacco ingredients” are also used as the basis for identifying a product as tobacco.

The FCTC states that “tobacco products” means products wholly or partly made from tobacco materials manufactured for smoking, sucking, chewing or inhaling.

It also does not depend on the operating mechanism of heated cigarettes (using electronic devices instead of lighters) to exclude this product from the current legal framework that applies to cigarettes.

In the Workshop of "New Generation Cigarettes in Vietnam: Policy Recommendations" held on March 19, Nguyen Chí Nhan, head of Legal and Training Department of Vietnam Tobacco Association (VTA), said that since the 2018 World Health Organization (WHO)’s COP8 conference, the FCTC identified heated cigarettes as a type of tobacco.

Nhan affirmed that WHO does not prohibit and recommends that governments manage according to national law as well as FCTC regulations.

WHO also reaffirmed the validity of this recommendation at COP10 last February, Nhan said.

Recently, at the meeting reporting on State management work for heated cigarettes and electronic cigarettes, Minister of Health Dao Hong Lan emphasised the need to have a solid basis to ban new generation cigarettes and carefully consider whether or not the Law on Prevention and Control of Tobacco Harms applies to electronic cigarettes and heated cigarettes.

Meanwhile, some managers have affirmed that the Law on Prevention and Control of Harmful Effects of Tobacco is designed to cover tobacco products in the future.

National Assembly delegate Pham Khanh Phong Lan, who also participated in passing the Law on Prevention and Control of Harmful Effects of Tobacco 2012, commented that the law clearly defines tobacco and related products, including electronic cigarettes and heated tobacco products.

She also believed that the current law is qualified to manage newly arising tobacco products.

As of July 2021, 184 out of 195 WHO member countries have applied heated tobacco management policies according to current law. - Vietnam News/ANN

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Vietnam , e-cigarettes , regulation


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