70th anniversary of Hanoi's Liberation Day Vietnam - Asia 2023 Smart City Summit Hanoi celebrates 15 years of administrative boundary adjustment 12th Vietnam-France decentrialized cooperation conference 31st Sea Games - Vietnam 2021 Covid-19 Pandemic
May 07, 2024 / 11:41

No e-cigarette product allowed on Vietnamese market yet: Trade Ministry

Government agencies are working on a pilot management policy for electronic cigarettes, which will be submitted to the Prime Minister for consideration.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) has recommended that electronic cigarette products should not be allowed to circulate in Vietnam until a final decision on the matter is made.

  Most of the e-cigarette products on Vietnam's market are smuggled. Photo: Thai An/The Hanoi Times

Regarding the proposal to ban electronic cigarettes, Deputy Director of the Ministry of Industry and Trade's Industry Agency Ngo Khai Hoan stated that the agency’s standpoint is that the health regulator is responsible for conducting scientific research and evaluation on the health risks of these products to users. "If it is found that there are harmful effects requiring a ban on circulation and use, the MoIT will support it to protect the health of the entire population," he informed.

As for heated tobacco products, Hoan said the Ministry has proposed to the Prime Minister to allow a two-year trial period for the manufacture, import, and distribution of these products.

Currently, heated tobacco and electronic cigarettes are two new-generation tobacco products prevalent on the market. Heated tobacco products consist of tobacco sticks and heating devices. The sticks are made entirely or partially of tobacco. When used, the sticks are heated by electronic devices, producing an aerosol containing nicotine and other chemicals.

Electronic cigarettes consist of an e-liquid and a heating device. The electronic heating device vaporizes the e-liquid, producing an aerosol containing nicotine and other ingredients.

Tobacco production and trading are regulated industries under the Law on Prevention and Control of Tobacco Harms. However, this law lacks definitions for new-generation tobacco products, creating a legal loophole. Violations related to electronic cigarettes and heated tobacco products are currently handled administratively, without criminal sanctions like those for smuggling tobacco sticks in excess of 1,500 packs.

According to a  MoIT report, during the process of developing the trial policy for heated tobacco products, the Ministry has held two meetings with the Ministry of Health to coordinate viewpoints on the management policy for these items. Hoan reiterated the Ministry's standpoint that the policy for new-generation tobacco products should be developed closely in line with the Ministry of Health's opinions, in accordance with the Constitution,  the Investment Law, and other related regulations.

Vietnam has one of the highest tobacco consumption rates in the world. Recently, the emergence of electronic cigarettes and heated tobacco products has changed the market landscape.

According to the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), most of these products on the market are smuggled. In 2023, market management authorities inspected 303 cases, handled 296 violations, and collected nearly VND4 billion ($158,000) for the budget. In the first quarter of this year alone, 71 cases were processed, yielding over VND1.2 billion ($1.2 billion) for the budget.

At the Q&A session organized by the Social Affairs Committee of the National Assembly on May 4, Minister of Health Dao Hong Lan proposed banning the import, and sale of electronic cigarettes, and heated tobacco products. These products, according to the Ministry of Health, adversely affect people's health, especially the younger generation.

This measure, Lan said, aligns with the Party's resolutions, the Government's policies on tobacco harm prevention and control, and international experience.