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    Costa Rica Seeks to Prohibit Synthetic Nicotine in Vapers Due to its Effects on Minors

    Vaping can cause lung injury, one of which has already been recorded in a child under 16 years of age in 2023

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    The Ministry of Health seeks to prohibit synthetic nicotine in electronic devices such as vapers, mainly due to the increase in consumption in the underage population.

    According to figures from the Costa Rican Social Security Fund (CCSS), so far in 2024, 213 cases have been registered due to injuries linked to the use of vaping devices, in a population between 10 and 19 years old.

    Attention to the risks

    Given this boom, Health calls on citizens about the risks posed by the use of these devices, which in addition to nicotine, contain 42 substances classified as toxic, dangerous and/or irritating.

    This was ruled by the Report on the Results of the Chemical Composition of Electronic Nicotine Administration Systems (EANS), 2023, carried out by the Costa Rican Institute for Research and Teaching in Nutrition and Health (Inciensa), released this past Tuesday, during a conference at the Ministry of Health.

    According to the sampling, the devices studied produced three main substances: nicotine, glycerol and propylene glycol. For the Minister of Health, Mary Munive, the problems and health effects due to vaping are on the rise. The official cited the reports of the National Poisoning Center of the CCSS, which deals with cases when there are symptoms of significant poisoning.By 2023, the Fund unit recorded 14 poisonings due to vaping, of which 9 were minors and 7 required hospital care.

    “What is difficulty breathing, tachycardia or a heart rate of more than 90/100 beats per minute, paleness, tremors, red eyes, cough, nausea, vomiting, dizziness and hallucinations; Many times this originates after vaping,” said Minister Munive.

    The official pointed out that this practice can cause lung injuries, as was the case of a minor under 16 years of age, reported in November 2023. The teenager required a month of intensive care.

    Significant lung injury

    “The consequences that can be caused by lung injury, subsequently by this disease, which is caused by vapers, are important to point out,” said Munive.“The data is overwhelming. They look like toys without being toys, to make them more attractive. They are toxic at the lung level, the kidney is not suitable to receive these substances,” added the Health chief.

    Regulation

    Given the free marketing and consumption of vapes with synthetic nicotine, the Ministry of Health announced this past Tuesday different actions that will stop the import and sale of vapes with these components.In addition, the prompt publication of regulations that prohibit vaping in public places is promoted, similar to what is applied with tobacco.

    Minister Munive was clear that there has already been regulation in this regard since 2021, with Law 10,066 that contemplates measures on electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), similar systems without nicotine (SSSN) and electronic devices that use heated tobacco and similar technologies.

    “I hope that the population raises awareness about the use of these devices. Nicaragua and Panama, our neighbors, already have it prohibited,” the minister emphasized.“We are committed to providing an adequate response to the population,” said the vice president of the Republic.

    Guideline and bill

    The Ministry of Health announced other actions to stop the sale of devices with “synthetic nicotine in Costa Rica, as well as those that have cannabinoid-type liquids incorporated, given that these represent a health risk.”

    The ban covers practices such as the import, sale, advertising and marketing of these devices with these components.For now, a ministerial guideline will be issued until a technical regulation that puts a stop to the use of these chemicals is published later this year. “It is prohibited for minors under 18 years of age, a minor should not even carry a device,” they said.

    The authorities reported that they will socialize the measures with the different sectors. Health has identified 31 importers and two national distributors, said the minister.

    Regarding the Technical Regulations of Costa Rica (RTCR), it was reported that the document “is under construction with the technical teams, and must go through both national and international public consultation processes for its approval.”

    A bill to reform legislation 10,066 was also sent to the Presidency of the Republic, “with the purpose of strengthening and correcting all legal deficiencies that currently affect said regulations.”The minister pointed out necessary measures such as the form of sale, the colors used and the new components that have been incorporated.

    Munive asked the deputies for prompt approval, in this period of extraordinary sessions when the Executive Branch manages the legislative agenda.The text will be sent to Congress when the different commissions are installed at the end of this month.

    The National Anti-Tobacco Network (Renata) issued a statement in which they say they applaud that “the Ministry of Health begins to regulate vaporizers” and requested the approval of other initiatives in Congress, such as neutral labeling, to reduce the consumption and access of tobacco related products.

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