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July 9, 2021

Panama Assembly Votes to Prohibit Vape Sales

CORRECTION July 12
The original version of this article incorrectly stated that the law passed in Panama would ban personal use of vaping products. After reviewing the actual language of Bill 178, it's clear that the bill, if signed into law, would only prohibit use in locations where smoking is also banned.

The error came from an official summary of the law on the Panamanian National Assembly's website, which says:

"The legislative plenary session gave its favorable vote to Bill 178, which prohibits the use, importation and commercialization of electronic nicotine administration systems, electronic cigarettes, heating vaporizers and other similar devices, with or without nicotine, in the Republic of Panama." (Emphasis added.)

We have corrected the article, and apologize for the error.

July 9, 2021

Panama’s National Assembly has passed a bill that would prohibit sales of vaping products and restrict where they can be used. The vape product ban will not become law until signed by President Laurentino Cortizo, who vetoed an earlier version of Bill 178.

The new law would ban sales of all vaping products, with or without nicotine. The ban would also apply to heated tobacco products (HTPs) like IQOS. The bill was sponsored by the President of the Assembly, Deputy Crispiano Adames.

While the law would not prohibit exports to other countries, or the reshipping of products from Panama to other countries, it would authorize the National Customs Authority to “stop, confiscate and suspend the sale and commercialization of electronic systems in the country,” according to the Assembly. The law would also require businesses to post signs warning that vaping product use is prohibited.

Although Panama had already banned e-cigarette sales in 2014 by executive decree, the new law adds public use restrictions. According to Pro Vapeo Mexico director Roberto Sussman, most Latin American countries with vaping bans have thriving black markets.

The bill is opposed by the Asociación por la Reducción de Daños del Tabaquismo de Panamá (ARDT Panamá), the country’s vaping consumer organization. ARDT Panamá says that the law would send Panamanian vapers to the black market, where products with questionable manufacturing standards are common.

The Republic of Panama has a population of about four million, and is a relatively high-income country. It borders Colombia, connecting North and South America, and its famous Panama Canal bisects the narrow country, allowing easy passage between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

Smokers created vaping without any help from the tobacco industry or anti-smoking crusaders, and vapers have the right to keep innovating to help themselves. My goal is to provide clear, honest information about the challenges vaping faces from lawmakers, regulators, and brokers of disinformation. I recently joined the CASAA board, but my opinions aren’t necessarily CASAA’s, and vice versa. You can find me on Twitter @whycherrywhy
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