The United States has opened up its e-cigarette market – what’s next for Egypt?



CAIRO: The US Food and Drug Administration finally approved the sale of three types of e-cigarettes last week, leaving companies wondering what this means for the Egyptian market?

RJ Reynolds’ Vuse Solo electronic cigarettes and two types of its tobacco-flavored pods became the first vapor-based products to gain approval from the U.S. health watch body.

The FDA decided after more than a year of testing that the product’s benefits for adults trying to quit smoking outweighed the risk of teens getting addicted.

The regulator said the move was an “important step in ensuring that all new tobacco products go through the FDA’s pre-market scientific review.”

However, last Tuesday’s decision came even as e-cigarettes have been widely available in the United States for more than a decade.

Still, the move could pave the way for tackling the rampant illegal trade in electronic smoking devices in Egypt.

Egypt’s Ministry of Health and Population recently warned against the use of electronic cigarettes, claiming that vaping contains nicotine and toxic substances that harm the smoker and those around him.

A ministry publication said vaping can lead to chronic lung disease, breathing problems and chest pain.

Western smoking products such as e-liquid pods contain 4.8% nicotine content, which is roughly the equivalent of a pack of cigarettes.

Nicotine is the chemical released when tobacco is smoked and is the addictive stimulant that gives users a rush. Vaping companies claim that their products provide nicotine to smokers, with far fewer dangerous toxins from burning tobacco.

Studies around the world are unclear on the health effects of electronic cigarettes.

However, Fawzi Al-Hwaiti, a tobacco vendor in central Cairo, is at the forefront of the e-cigarette business in Egypt.

He points out that only three types of vapes are allowed in Egypt, adding that he does not know whether the products he brings back to resellers are legal or not. Its prices range from 600 EGP to 1000 EGP.

Al-Hwaiti told Arab News: “It doesn’t matter that it’s legal. The important thing is that it comes to me and that I sell it and earn it to support my family. I think it’s legal because no one from the authorities spoke to me before that.

Some regular smokers hope that the relaxation in the United States will lead to a more flexible policy in Egypt.

The FDA’s decision was praised by engineer Islam Shawqi, a longtime smoker who decided to quit by switching to e-cigarettes.

He said: “I have smoked my whole life, have been smoking for a long time and wanted to quit. I have resorted to electronic cigarettes because I have heard that they are less harmful.

Shawqi believes that the approval of certain types of vapes is the start of a trade opening in Egypt, which will help adult smokers like him.

However, the Egyptian Chambers of Commerce make it clear that the expansion of the e-cigarette market is in the hands of the government.

The company said: “We have not received any notification, and I believe the Egyptian Ministry of Health needs to report this matter first, before implementing it commercially.”

Robert Naous, Director of External Affairs, Middle East and North Africa, leading electronic cigarette maker Relx International expressed satisfaction with the lifting of the ban in Egypt, as he commented in a statement: “The lifting of this ban in Egypt is a good and specific step. in the right direction, which will greatly benefit the general investment environment in the country, by encouraging small and medium-sized enterprises and manufacturers to invest, opening new stores and importing refillable vaping devices, thereby creating new new job opportunities. It is also certain that the public treasury will benefit by generating additional tax revenue in a healthy way, as it blocks the way for illegal traders who escape the import tax. “



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