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Mexico: Importation of Electronic Cigarettes Banned

(Mar. 19, 2020) On February 19, 2020, Mexico’s president issued an executive order (EO) banning the importation of electronic cigarettes, which have been brought into Mexico from abroad in large quantities.

The preamble of the EO explains that it was issued in accordance with article 131 of the Mexican Constitution, which provides that the president may prohibit the importation of particular products if doing so is deemed urgent and to the benefit of the country.

In this instance, the preamble explains that the benefit and objective of the ban is to protect the health of the Mexican people, citing several sources that have recently warned about the high health risks that electronic cigarettes pose to those who use them.

Specifically, the Mexican government indicated in its press release regarding the ban that, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), e-cigarettes may lead to the consumption of toxic substances and are a risk not only for smokers, but also for people exposed to secondhand smoke emanating from these devices, as the substances burned by e-cigarettes often include chemicals harmful to the heart and lungs.

In addition, the EO cites information reported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that, in September 2019, there were approximately 200 documented cases of patients who had suffered serious lung injuries related to the use of electronic cigarettes in about 25 American states.

The press release also stated that, according to a survey conducted by Mexico’s National Council on Addictions, 938,000 teenagers in Mexico have tried e-cigarettes, and about 160,000 use such devices regularly, a fact that prompted the Mexican government to take action.

Some Mexican legislators have expressed disagreement with the presidential EO because they believe that the Congress should have the responsibility for regulating e-cigarettes. In their view, the issue of health risks associated with e-cigarettes should be discussed by Congress and, if appropriate, addressed by legislation that is properly informed by in-depth analysis of all available pertinent data. They added that an absolute ban on importation covering all types of electronic smoking devices could lead to the creation of an e-cigarette black market.