A proposed amendment by senator Simona Vicari may lead to a ban of the sale of all vaping devices outside the certified tobacco vendors circuit, which is under the control of the Italian Customs and Monopoly Agency (AAMS). The proposal caused a strong reaction in the specialised sector and by Italian professionals in the indusry.
A few hours after the announcement, an online petition against the Vicari amendment had already exceeded 55 000 signatures. Today, the number has risen to 74 000. This is the sign of a mobilising force against a measure considered unfair by the independent vendor community. The amendment would also ban any online sale of electronic cigarettes. Only specialised shops compliant with a set of criteria established by the AAMS would be legally allowed to sell vaping gear come March 2018. Yet, the Italian market is mostly an online business, as covered previously.
If the amendment is adopted, this would no doubt mark the end of independent vaping in Italy. Indeed, if licensed tobacco vendors become the only providers of electronic cigarettes, namely the main competitor of traditional cigarettes, how would this affect the quality of products sold? Furthermore, alcoholics do not buy their bottled water in places where alcohol lines the shelves.
The independence of vape sector professionals may be in danger
Just as vaping is gradually becoming an accepted method of smoking cessation, making it only available via cigarette vendors seems absurd and potentially dangerous. Simona Vicari justified her proposal by presenting the the vaping device market in Italy as “a scam”.
A number of outspoken critics, such as Stefano Di Luca, president of the Liberal Party, voiced their concern regarding this amendment proposal, labelling it “cronyism”. Hundreds of small businesses would be forced to close up shop if this amendment was passed.
It will be interesting for the vaping community at large to keep track of the online petition. How would this position be reflected in the Italian political class? Will the Vicari amendment be rejected? The consequences could be disastrous for the Italian vaping community, and by extension, the global community.