The Federal Law, dated July 31st 2020: "On Amending Certain Laws of the Russian Federation, on the Protection of Citizens' Health from the Consequences of the Consumption of Nicotine-Containing Products" ("Law"), that amends various of laws, including the Tobacco Law, the Advertising Law and the Code of Administrative Offences, came into force on January 28th 2021.

Before the Law, there were no direct regulations of the nicotine-containing products' trade and advertising, such as e-cigarettes or vapes, only regulations regarding tobacco.

According to the Advertising Law, advertising of tobacco, tobacco products, devices, as well as smoking accessories, are totally prohibited in Russia. The Tobacco Law also prohibits advertising of tobacco, tobacco products and/or consuming tobacco, including imitating tobacco products or the smoking process, in terms of producing other types of products.

Therefore, there was a contradiction in law enforcement practice, whether to consider advertising of e-cigarettes and vapes as tobacco advertising, or not.

Subsequently, local authorities tried to solve the problem, at the level of the regions of the Russian Federation, by prohibiting the sale of such products to children. Thus, there were cases, when in some regions, the sale of nicotine-containing products was prohibited, and in a neighboring region it was still allowed. Moreover, there was also no uniform definition of "nicotine-containing" products.

 As a result, massive amendments were adopted that formally equated all nicotine-containing products (for example, liquids for vapes, tobacco sticks for electronic heating systems) to tobacco and extended a single regulation to them.

We would like to highlight the following provisions of the Law:

  1. The Law introduces the unified concept of nicotine-containing products and devices for the consumption of nicotine-containing products.

Nicotine-containing products  - any products containing nicotine (including those produced by synthesis) or its derivatives, including nicotine salts, which are intended for consumption of nicotine and its delivery by sucking, chewing, sniffing or inhaling, including products with heated tobacco, solutions, liquids or gels containing at least 0,1 mg/ml liquid nicotine, nicotine-containing liquid, powders, mixtures for sucking, chewing, sniffing, and are not intended for use in food (except for medical products and medicines registered in accordance with the legislation of the Russian Federation, food products containing nicotine in natural form, and tobacco products).

Devices for the consumption of nicotine-containing products are electronic, or other, devices that are used to obtain nicotine-containing aerosol, vapor inhaled by the consumer, including electronic nicotine delivery systems and devices for heating tobacco, according to the Law.

2. The Law establishes requirements for the composition of nicotine-containing products (the concentration of nicotine in a liquid, or nicotine, solution should not exceed 20 mg / ml) and the obligation to disclose their composition.

3. The Law prohibits the involvement of children under 18 years old in the consumption of not only tobacco, but also in all nicotine-containing products.

4. The Law introduces a ban on advertising and online sales  of nicotine-containing products, as well as a ban on advertising of devices for the consumption of nicotine-containing products.

5. The Law prohibits the demonstration, in advertising, of the process of consumption of any kind of nicotine-containing products, including electronic systems, or through another form of delivery of nicotine into the human body, provided for by law.

Fines for the advertising of nicotine-containing products can reach up to 600,000 Roubles (approx. EUR 6,700; USD 8,000).

Thus, the ambiguity of the legal regulation of electronic cigarette advertising has been resolved. This was previously a gray area for everyone, including government authorities. Therefore, with the new regulation, we are expecting the unification of law enforcement practice.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.