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Mexico steps up war on smoking, vaping

June 1, 2022

Vaping and e-cigarettes have been banned from sale in Mexico, with expanded restrictions on smoking and vaping on the way.

A person vaping, holding an e-cigarette.
Vaping products have been banned by Mexico's government. Image: Frank May/picture alliance

Mexico has banned the sale of vaping devices as authorities say they are concerned about the health effects of vaping.

The move was announced by President Manuel Lopez Obrador on World No Tobacco Day and was accompanied by several other measures aimed at clamping down on smoking in public places.

What did President Obrador say about vaping?

Mexico's Health Minister Hugo Lopez Gatell said on Tuesday that claims vaping is a healthy alternative to tobacco are a "big lie."

"The vapors are also harmful to human health," said Lopez Obrador as he signed the bill into law, adding that vaping devices have been designed to appeal to young people.

"Look at the color, the design," Lopez Obrador said, holding up a pink vaping device.

Mexico had already banned imports of e-cigarettes, but companies had continued to sell what they already had in stock.

Are e-cigarettes really healthier?

The new ban applies to marketing and selling those items.

At the same time, Mexico City authorities said they would ban smoking of any kind in the capital's main square, the Zocalo, and nearby neighborhoods.

Smoking bans have been in place for closed spaces, government offices, shops, bars, and restaurants in Mexico for more than a decade.

Lawmakers are set to vote on whether smoking should also be banned on beaches, entertainment venues and stadiums.

The government estimates that more than 5 million Mexicans have tried vaping at least once.

Is vaping dangerous?

There is little research into the long-term effects of vaping, but acute harms have been found in some studies.

In early 2020, US health agency the Center for Disease Control and Prevention said that US states had reported 2,807 cases where patients had died or been hospitalized with lung injuries associated with vaping.

The CDC said these cases, known as EVALI cases, were linked to vitamin E acetate, which is in some vaping devices.

In the United States, restaurant vaping bans are in place in some states and municipalities. Others have banned the sale of flavored vaping liquids.

India announced in 2019 that it was banning all e-cigarettes. 

In Britain, meanwhile, the National Health Service has said it would investigate whether vaping products could be prescribed by doctors to help people quit smoking, as vaping is considered to be less harmful than smoking tobacco.

er/sms (AFP, AP)