The list of substances prohibited for nicotine-containing products, which was supposed to come into force on March 1, 2024, was not supported by the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rosalkogoltabakkontrol. This follows from the letters of the departments prepared for the Ministry of Health (the author of the initiative) at the request of the Ministry of Industry and Trade. RBC has copies of all these letters, their authenticity was confirmed by two RBC sources in the industry.
The positions of relevant departments regarding the list of additives prohibited in the production of vapes, the Ministry of Industry and Trade began to collect in August 2023 after the Ministry of Health developed and submitted the corresponding list. The press service of the Ministry of Industry and Trade told RBC that they had sent the position to the initiator ministry, specifying that they had not yet received the list finalized taking into account these proposals.
How the list appeared and what it included
In the spring of this year, amendments were adopted to the so—called anti-smoking law ("On protecting citizens' health from exposure to ambient tobacco smoke ..."), tightening the sale of nicotine-containing products - vapes, electronic tobacco heating systems, liquids and sticks for them and other similar products. According to the changes, devices for the consumption of nicotine-containing products and their components can no longer be sold at fairs and exhibitions, remotely, as well as through vending machines and "by delivery and delivery trade." The sale of such products became possible only in retail stores, while open display and demonstration were also banned.
In addition, the changes imply a ban on the circulation of nicotine-containing products with the addition of flavors and substances that enhance nicotine addiction. The list of such additives "aimed at increasing the attractiveness of products," including nicotine-free liquids, should be determined by the government. It is assumed that the release into circulation of products with the addition of prohibited substances will become impossible.
In August of this year, such a list was prepared and sent to the Government by the Ministry of Health. It includes food flavors, for example, fruits and vegetables, vegetable flavor impurities and their derivatives, sweeteners — molasses, honey, stevia, maple syrup and agave syrup, as well as caffeine, guarana, taurine and other substances. It was assumed that the ban on the introduction into circulation of nicotine-containing products with these additives would come into force on March 1, 2024.
Why the list was not accepted
The Ministry of Finance considered that the formation of the list should be based on the results of research in the field of production and consumption of nicotine-containing and nicotine-free liquids. They recalled that the Eurasian Economic Commission is currently developing a draft technical regulation of the EAEU for nicotine—containing products and the document provides for a common list of substances that are unacceptable to use in production for all member states of the Union. The Ministry stressed that this list was compiled on the basis of conducted research, and therefore suggested relying on it when forming their own list within the framework of national legislation. The press service of the Ministry of Finance confirmed its position to RBC. They also pointed out that the new list from the Ministry of Health has not yet been received.
A similar opinion on the need to take as a basis the list from the draft technical regulations is held in Rosalkoltabakkontrol. This is stated in the letter of the service to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, and in its response to the request of RBC.
The Ministry of Agriculture, as follows from the Ministry's letter, believes that the ban on the use of all substances proposed by the Ministry of Health will lead to an actual ban on the turnover of all nicotine-containing products. This, in turn, contradicts the stated purpose of introducing such restrictions — "preventing the increase in the attractiveness of nicotine-containing liquids for consumers, especially minors, and increasing dependence on nicotine-containing products," the ministry writes. The purpose of banning the production and turnover of such products is not worth it, the Ministry of Agriculture emphasizes in the letter.
Another argument that the Ministry of Agriculture draws attention to is that the list does not contain specific substances "for which a negative effect on the consumer's body has been established." According to the Ministry of Agriculture, it includes "general definitions that allow for different interpretations," and specific substances and additives subject to prohibition are "listed as examples or as part of an indefinitely wide range of prohibited substances." Therefore, the Ministry proposed to exclude all definitions that "allow for any evaluative interpretation", for example, those listed in the list "food flavors", "food products, including fruits and vegetables, as well as products obtained as a result of their processing, such as concentrates, fruit juices" and other items.
RBC sent a request to the Ministry of Agriculture.
What the industry and the Ministry of Health think
Member of the Board of the Professional Alliance of Participants of the Russian market of electronic Nicotine Systems (POWERANCE) Maxim Korolev confirms that the list of the Ministry of Health in fact prohibits the entire industry of vapes and electronic cigarettes. According to him, only the basic substances — propylene glycol, glycerin and, in fact, nicotine - will remain allowed. This was the composition of the first vapes that appeared in China in 2003, and they were not popular.
Thanks to the variety of electronic nicotine delivery systems currently available on the market, smokers have an acceptable way to get nicotine, on which they depend physiologically, says Korolev. With the prohibitions of the Ministry of Health, consumers will lose this acceptability for organoleptic properties and will be forced to return to traditional cigarettes that are more harmful than nicotine-containing products, Korolev says. The list provided for in the draft technical regulations contains substances whose harm has really been proven and which are no longer used by bona fide manufacturers, Korolev concludes.
The press service of the Ministry of Health assured RBC that all interested federal orans of the executive branch conceptually support the approval of the list. To develop it, the Ministry has created a special working group, which now continues to form the list. When it will be ready, they did not specify.