How in the Russian Federation the rules for the turnover of ESDN are established

#industry news

One of the most popular topics in Russian political discourse remains the issue of regulation of electronic means of nicotine delivery. In order to protect minors, a high-profile bill was passed last year, tightening the regulation of the sale of such goods, including restricting sales channels, rules for display in retail outlets, etc. Despite the activity of legislators, the effect of further tightening of regulation is assessed ambiguously by experts. According to experts, in order to prevent access to this category of minors, it is necessary to ensure effective enforcement of already adopted norms, while the additional prohibitive steps being discussed threaten to reduce the legal retail market and, as a result, the growth of the shadow sector and increased risks to public health.

In April 2023, President Vladimir Putin signed a new law regulating the turnover of electronic nicotine delivery systems (EDS). The document prohibits the sale of such devices to minors, introduces a ban on the retail sale of devices and their components at fairs, exhibitions, as well as remotely and using vending machines.

It is also prohibited to openly display electronic payment cards in stores and apply discounts, including through the publication of coupons and coupons. In addition, the document prohibited the sale of ESDN below the minimum price set by the Government of the Russian Federation. The Government also received the right to develop a list of additives and flavorings, in the presence of which the release of liquids for ESDN will not be allowed.

State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin, who was among the authors of the document, later called the law one of the most important considered by the State Duma at that time. "Parents and teachers have repeatedly asked to protect the health of children," he was quoted on the State Duma website.

Experts, however, were less optimistic. According to Vladlen Maksimov, President of the Small Format Trade Association, the amendments were adopted hastily and without taking into account the opinions of market participants. Perhaps the speed was explained by the fact that the focus of the bill was on the protection of minors, but as a result, the prospects for bringing the ESDN market as such out of the shadow were in question.

According to Anna Sorochinskaya, executive director of the Public Council on Adolescent Smoking, the ban on the sale of such devices to minors at the time of the adoption of the last law had been in effect for three years, although it did not bring noticeable results. The organization attributes this primarily to insufficient control over the implementation of existing legislative norms. And today, control is further complicated by the moratorium on business inspections.

Indirectly, the problem was confirmed by Vyacheslav Volodin himself. As the speaker of the State Duma wrote in his Telegram channel in April, the law enforcement practice of the law adopted a year earlier shows that not all standards are being observed. "Someone put darkened windows on the windows, someone puts out part of the goods, and someone prefers to pay a fine. The penalties for violators are small compared to the potential profit," he pointed out.

Against this background, some deputies proposed to completely ban the sale of ESDN in Russia. According to experts, such measures are more likely to have the opposite effect. As indicated in the Union of Enterprises of the nicotine-containing Products Industry, the initiative will lead to an avalanche-like growth of the shadow market, as has already happened with the prohibition of non-smoking tobacco.

Some legislators in Russia agree with the futility of a complete ban on ESDN. Thus, Natalia Koshikhina, a member of the Federation Council Committee on Social policy, noted that it is more important to work with young people to form a negative attitude towards such devices.

"It is definitely easier to ban it, but we are acquiring certain problems in the future that will also need to be solved," the senator told RIA Novosti. According to her, such work requires efforts from educational institutions, parents, and the public. "The ban will not change the situation — all people are so flexible and enterprising that there is always a way out of any situation," Ms. Koshikhina pointed out.

There are examples of more flexible regulatory initiatives. So, as RIA Novosti reported, Senator Airat Gibatdinov appealed to Rospotrebnadzor with a request to consider the possibility of creating a smartphone application with which citizens would record violations of the rules of trade in tobacco and nicotine-containing products. "I am convinced that the implementation of such an initiative can significantly reduce the number of violations," the agency quoted the senator's appeal.

Anna Sorochinskaya also notes that the results of the fight against the sale of ESDN to minors can be seen only when the control mechanisms of all involved authorities are improved. As she said during the discussion of the topic on the site of the Moscow City Duma, the current inspection regulations do not allow Rospotrebnadzor to prove the sale of ESDN to a minor, which means to identify a violation as such.

The Public Council on the Problem of Adolescent Smoking advocates giving the Ministry of Internal Affairs the authority to check and draw up protocols in case of sale of cigarettes or EDS to minors, allowing Rospotrebnadzor to carry out control measures without coordination with the prosecutor's office and permission to involve underage volunteers in inspections. The Council is also discussing with regulators measures such as a ban on the dissemination of information on the remote sale of such products, the extrajudicial blocking of online stores and administrative liability for violators. A number of these measures have recently been introduced by the Moscow City Duma for consideration by the State Duma of the Russian Federation.