“Our original position has always been to make sure that the flavors appealing to the youth are not allowed,” said Finance Undersecretary Karl Kendrick Chua.
President Rodrigo Duterte has reportedly said he wants e-cigarettes to taste only like tobacco.
Assistant Finance Secretary Tony Lambino said higher vapor product taxes would add about PHP2 billion ($39.2 million) in revenues if implemented next year.
For its part, the Bureau of Internal Revenue is already preparing new tax stamps in anticipation of increases in cigarette and alcohol taxes.
These taxes are expected to generate PHP47 billion in revenues during the first year of implementation.
“We are actively working to impose a ban on the production, import and sale of e-cigarettes and all vaping tobaccos to prevent health risks,” said Shaikh Yusuf Harun, secretary at the health education and family welfare division of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
The health ministry had taken into consideration the recent spate of deaths and illnesses linked to e-cigarette use in the United States, he said.
As of Nov. 20, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had registered 2,290 cases of lung injuries and 49 deaths related to vaping. Public health officials have fingered black market THC products as the most likely culprit.
India, the world’s second-largest tobacco market, banned the sale of e-cigarettes in October as it warned of a vaping “epidemic” among young people.
The global market for e-cigarettes was worth $15.7 billion in 2018, according to Euromonitor International, and is projected to more than double to $40 billion in 2023.
U.S. authorities said last month that there had been 47 deaths this year from a lung illness tied to vaping, according to a Reuters post. The health concerns about vaping have grown despite evidence showing e-cigarettes help smokers to quit, and has led to bans in some countries including India and Brazil.
Reinsurers insure the insurers, and often have large research arms which help their clients by modeling risk, according to the post. They give broad advice to insurers, rather than specific policy or pricing recommendations, but can potentially refuse to provide reinsurance or can raise premiums if their guidance is ignored.
Most insurers have long treated smokers and vapers the same, meaning they can pay close to double the premiums of non-smokers or non-vapers. But three major reinsurers have provided updated advice on vaping in the past three months, with new warnings, while others are considering their approach.
The new warnings focus on young vapers and the vaping of liquids containing marijuana ingredient THC, which is legal and prevalent in some U.S. states and has been linked to lung illnesses in the country, according to the post.
The shift in the reinsurance and insurance sector represents a further blow to the vaping industry, which markets its products as healthier alternatives to smoking.
Hannover RE (HNRGn.DE), which already advised life insurers to treat vapers like smokers, has asked them to be particularly cautious about insuring people aged under 25 following the “epidemic” of lung injuries in the United States, said Nico van Zyl, the reinsurer’s U.S. medical director.
The question of whether to offer coverage to this higher risk group should be a consideration for life insurers, he said.
French reinsurer SCOR (SCOR.PA) said in a paper on Oct. 24 that e-cigarettes contain nicotine which may have toxic effects, including on brain development in teenagers and young adults, according to the post.
SCOR recommends life insurers treat vaping like smoking, and exclude individuals who use vaping products considered by U.S. authorities likely to cause lung issues – namely, those containing THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).
Swiss Re (SRENH.S) also treats vapers like smokers. In addition, Global Chief Medical Officer John Schoonbee said the reinsurer has told insurers in recent months to make extra checks on whether vapers are using cannabis products.
Even though health authorities have blamed the health problems mostly on THC products obtained from illicit sources, a global crackdown on vapor products has taken a toll on legitimate businesses.
On Nov. 7, Chinese authorities ordered online platforms to discontinue sales of e-cigarettes, citing health concerns. Leading platforms such as Taobao or JD.com duly complied, causing the category to virtually disappear overnight.
China is the world’s biggest manufacturer and exporter of e-cigarettes, according to the China Electronic Cigarette Chamber of Commerce. In 2018, more than 2 million people worked in the industry, with annual sales worth RMB33.7 billion ($4.79 billion) and exports worth RMB28.7 billion.
Shenzhen manufactures about 90 percent of the world’s vapor devices and is home to about 1,000 factories. Thousands more companies form the supply chain throughout Guangdong province and China.
Bigger players have fared better than the smaller sellers, and life for them goes on as normal for now, according to The Guardian.
Some speculate that China Tobacco, the state-run monopoly that manages the country’s tobacco industry, is trying to stub out the vapor segment because its growth is coming at the expense of tobacco products.
Researchers compared black market vaping cartridges seized in Minnesota during the outbreak this year with vaping liquid seized in that state last year. The newer cartridges contained the compound vitamin E acetate, but none of the older samples did.
They also looked at vaping cartridges collected from a dozen patients. Vitamin E acetate was commonly found in those, too.
The study echoes other work that found the substance in the damaged lungs of 29 patients across the U.S.
“The findings further support a potential role for vitamin E acetate in causing lung injury associated with vaping products,” said Ruth Lynfield, a Minnesota health official.
Set to take effect on June 1, 2020, the law limits the sale of flavored nicotine vaping products, including menthol, “to licensed smoking bars where they may only be smoked on-site.”
The same restrictions apply to all other flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes and flavored chewing tobacco.
The legislation also imposes a 75 percent excise tax on e-cigarettes.
“It’s pretty clear there isn’t going to be a federal policy on this anytime soon,” Baker said at the signing. “So in the absence of that, we had to act.”
Vapor businesses in Massachusetts have been protesting the restrictions since they were first proposed.
“The people that were applauding the governor the loudest were the criminals and gangs that already operated in the states illegal black market,” Jon Shaer, executive director of the New England Convenience Store & Energy Marketers Association, was quoted as saying.
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