Mexican Executive Order Bans Imported Vaping Products| 17 April, 2020
Until this year, vaping existed in something of a gray space in Mexico. That’s not the case any longer. If Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has his way, vaping products from companies like buyv2cigs.co.uk will soon be illegal in Mexico. In fact, Lopez Obrador believes that they already are, and he has solidified that position with an executive order banning all imported vaping products in Mexico.
How easy is it to influence world politics from afar? As you’re about to learn, it might be as simple as throwing a bit of money in the right direction. What’s going on with vaping in Mexico? Let’s dig a bit deeper.
What Is the Current State of Vaping in Mexico?
The current Mexican tobacco control policy, implemented in 2008, bans the sale of products that look like – or are packaged like – tobacco products but contain no tobacco. Some people – President Lopez Obrador included – believe that law applies to e-cigarettes.
In 2019, though, the Mexican Supreme Court disagreed, ruling that the 2008 tobacco control policy violated the Mexican constitution. The court ruled that vaping products should be allowed in Mexico and that they should be sold under the same rules and limitations that apply to tobacco products.
The ruling was a boon to the vaping businesses that had sued to challenge the law. It did not, however, set a legal precedent for other vaping businesses in Mexico; it only applied to the companies named in the lawsuit.
It’s estimated that more than 1 million Mexican adults are regular vapers.
Mexican vaping advocacy organization Pro Vapeo Mexico slammed the executive decree banning imported vaping products, saying that the decree will likely have a negative effect on the health of Mexico’s vapers and smokers. Some vapers will likely return to smoking to avoid the stigma of doing something that the presidential administration considers illegal. Others will import vaping products anyway, spawning a black market.
It’s unknown what will happen to the Mexican vape shops that now operate legally under the 2019 Supreme Court ruling.
Why Did Mexico Ban Vaping Product Imports?
Under Article 131 of Mexico’s Constitution, the president has the power to ban the importation of products if doing so is necessary to protect the country’s citizens. President Lopez Obrador invoked that power, stating that banning imported vaping products is in the country’s best interest for two reasons:
- E-cigarettes emit harmful chemicals.
- E-cigarettes have caused a rash of lung injuries in the United States, leading to hundreds of hospitalizations and a few deaths.
While the reasons for the ban might sound good on the surface to non-vapers, they don’t hold up to close scrutiny. One statement is a lie of omission, and the other is a lie in absolute terms.
- All studies analyzing the emissions from electronic cigarettes have shown that any harmful constituents in the aerosol are present at far lower concentrations than in tobacco smoke. With the information currently available, researchers believe that vaping is around 95 percent less harmful than smoking. Unless Mexico manages to convince its nearly 15 million smokers to quit, banning a less harmful option makes little sense.
- The vaping-related lung injury that appeared in the United States in 2019 was caused by THC – not nicotine – vaping products. In most cases, the THC products being used were illegal and were adulterated with diluents such as Vitamin E acetate. The use of Vitamin E as a diluting agent for THC oil never caught on outside the United States, and the vaping-related lung disease was a purely U.S.-centric phenomenon. The nicotine e-liquids used in the U.S. are the same as those used everywhere else, and no nicotine e-liquid was ever implicated as a cause of the illness. The only major public health organization that hasn’t singled out THC vaping cartridges as the source of the illness is the World Health Organization.
Why would the WHO publish misleading information about vaping? It’s time to find out.
Is Foreign Money Influencing Mexican Law?
It’s interesting to see President Lopez Obrador parroting the WHO’s stance on vaping in light of the fact that the WHO has a long history of bias against vaping and publishes statements such as the ones above as facts when they are provably wrong. Nicotine e-liquid didn’t cause the outbreak of lung injuries in the U.S. in 2019, and no person could ever objectively say that vaping presents the same level of danger as smoking.
If an administration cares about public health, the only logical thing that administration can do is allow e-cigarettes to exist. Since some people are going to choose to use nicotine either way, the best thing to do is to present those people with a less risky alternative. That’s the essence of harm reduction.
It would seem, then, that the desire to protect public health was not the primary motivator behind President Lopez Obrador’s executive order. What, then, was the motivating factor? To learn the answer to that question, we need to look at the WHO and learn more about where that organization gets its money.
How the World Health Organization Influences World Tobacco Control Policy
The primary funder of the tobacco control arm of the WHO is billionaire Michael Bloomberg, former mayor of New York City. Bloomberg endowed the WHO with $1 billion to fund the organization’s tobacco control arm and to advance his own personal agenda regarding nicotine use. Bloomberg also funds anti-vaping advertisements on radio and other media channels across the United States.
The WHO has the authority to disburse portions of Bloomberg’s $1 billion endowment to governments around the world. The money can be used to fund those governments’ tobacco control programs, and to receive the funds, governments only need to parrot the WHO’s tobacco control policies and apply for the money. One of the WHO’s policies is that, in nations where vaping is already banned, those bans should remain in place. Governments who receive grants from the WHO can use the money to fund their own tobacco control programs, creating high-paying government jobs.
Through his $1 billion endowment, Michael Bloomberg exerts his influence over tobacco control policy in developing nations. Looking at Mexico’s ban on vaping product imports from that angle, it seems obvious that the decision has more to do with money than with public health.
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