In Italy, a new decree enacted on November 14 has sparked an impassioned debate. The new law allows for a government monopoly on the distribution of e-cigarettes and products. In addition, starting March 31 2018, all e-cigarette products will be sold exclusively by tobacconists, with a potential possibility for authorized dealers.
But not everyone is happy about the amendment, known as the Vicari Law. In particular, e-cigarette retailers will no longer be allowed to sell the devices without a licence provided by the Customs and Monopoly Agency. A large number of will undoubtedly have to file for bankruptcy.
For its part, the Italian government has highlighted the economic benefits of the Vicari law. Estimates suggest the new measures will result in an additional 9.5 million Euros for the Italian state, thanks to a diverse range of taxes on e-cigarettes. Nonetheless, some independent e-cigarette supporters remain sceptical. Indeed, before the law was enacted, there were numerous protests of the proposed monopoly and new measures.
Do tobacco producers push their own products?
Certain politicians like Stefano Di Lucia, the president of the Liberal party, are surprised that the government has decided upon a of e-cigarettes. According to him, this decision risks limiting consumer access to legitimate tobacco alternatives.
What’s more, the character of the defenders of the Vicari law is questionable, starting with the senator who gave her name to the controversial law. Simone Vicari is known for defending Big Tobacco. In 2015, she fiercely fought the idea of neutral cigarette packs, citing “protection of intellectual property.” In 2017, a corruption investigation regarding VAT tax was brought against her.
Detractors of the new law are also surprised that the tightening of conditions on the sale of e-cigarettes comes at the same time as the marketing of Iqos. In fact, the tobacco heating system developed by the multinational corporation Philip Morris will be tested in three countries: Japan, Switzerland … and Italy. Italy has been chosen as the home for two Iqos factories. In exchange, and at the request of the CEO of Philip Morris, André Calantzopolous, the Italian government has pledged to implement surtax on e-cigarettes. This dubious exchange of services undermines the integrity of the Italian government among e-cigarettes.