Hungary has one of the highest smoking prevalence in the European Union. To curb this, the country has adopted heavy regulation for tobacco with vending machines being banned. It has adopted a law that makes displaying tobacco products in a way that enables other people to see them from outside illegal. In 2016, the country passed a bill that required manufacturers to plain-pack tobacco products. This law will be implemented entirely in May 2019.
Nevertheless, it is legal to sell nicotine-containing cartridges as long as their packaging is in maximum volumes of 10ml bottles. What’s more, the cartridges should be sold at Nemzeti Dohanybolt or the National Tobacco Shops. Selling tobacco products in Hungary requires vendors to have a separate license. This gives further state control over the tobacco products market. The state has a monopoly since only people with government permission can merchandise tobacco.
Vaping rules in Hungary also require packaging of nicotine-containing vape pens or cartridges to have a text whose 30% indicates that the products have strong addiction-inducing nicotine. These restrictions cover the sale of refillable tanker liquids and e-cigarettes as well as other tobacco-containing products. The legal age at which a person can purchase nicotine-containing products in Hungary is 18 years.
Implementation of the European Union’s Tobacco Products Directive
Until 2016, Hungary prohibited nicotine-containing e-cigarette liquids. However, this has been legalized, and it’s considered a consumer product. Nevertheless, the country introduced a 65 Hungarian Forints tax per ml in 1st January 2017.
Advertising e-cigarette is banned in Hungary. The country prohibits vaping in places where smoking is also prohibited. All e-cigarette flavors are also prohibited except the tobacco flavor. The cross-border sale is also prohibited.
However, Hungary eventually adopted the European Union’s Tobacco Products Directive. This directive requires e-liquid to have no flavorings, no nicotine, and no additives like taurine, caffeine, and other additives as well as stimulant compounds that give consumers the feeling of enhanced vitality and energy.
This decree requires manufacturers to also inform the National Institute of Pharmacy and Nutrition of their products. It also requires them to ensure protection against leakage and breakage as well as a mechanism that allows for leakage-free refilling.
Act on Non-Smokers Protection
Hungary exploits an option that the EU TPD leaves open for the State Members. This option allows them to prohibit some tobacco categories or related products for purposes of protecting public health.
According to the European Union, Hungary situation is specific, and it is considered justified when it comes to regulating electronic cigarettes as well as devices that imitate electronic smoking no matter what their nicotine content is.
By adopting this decree, Hungary has taken a position that is opposed to the position taken by France and England. In France for instance, the High Council of Public Health acknowledges the importance of vape pen (learn more) when it comes to smoking cessation and risk reduction.
In Hungary, smoking is already well-settled. But, the e-cigarettes market is still undeveloped. Therefore, the authorities fear is that vaping might end up promoting the smoking culture and abandoning smokers’ hope to access a risk reduction solution.
Sale of Vaping Products in Hungary
In 2012, Hungary extended the cigarette smoking ban to include pubs, workplaces, clubs, bus stops, and restaurants. The World Health Organization praised Hungary for the efforts it put in protecting public health. However, the ban encouraged most Hungarian smokers to look for potentially healthier smoking alternatives. This made electronic cigarettes popular among smokers.
However, health officials turned their efforts towards snuffing out smoking alternatives because they considered them similar to ordinary cigarettes. According to the officials, second-hand cigarette smoke is dangerous. But, though e-cigarettes produce a vapor that resembles cigarette smoke, research has shown that it doesn’t have dangerous chemicals that are found in the smoke produced by traditional cigarettes. Therefore, it does not pose the same health risks to users and bystanders.
Nevertheless, the Hungarian system has made selling vaping products difficult for most vendors. Distance sale of vape pen mods and e-liquid is also prohibited. It’s almost impossible to purchase vaping products online in Hungary.
Some local shops have shut down. Since the demand for vaping products remains high in the country, new businesses are opening in the neighboring countries with less restrictive rules.
The price of vaping products in Hungary is high because the applicable fee for compliant products’ notifications is among the highest in the European Union.
Thus, though you can purchase vaping supplies, you will pay above odds for e-liquids.
Since finding tobacco shops in Hungary became challenging after some time, several search engines were established to help smokers, and vapers find vendors with ease. The official website of the state company is an example of such engines.
Forbidden Smoking and Vaping Areas
Vaping is prohibited where smoking is prohibited in Hungary.
This country forbids smoking and vaping in catering units and public institutions. That means state offices, schools, and state institutions that include theaters are no-smoking zones. Smoking inside catering units is illegal though pubs and restaurants have terraces or inner yards with smoking spots.
Smoking and vaping rules are aimed at protecting non-smokers. Therefore, smokers are allowed to light up cigarettes a minimum of 5 meters away from these buildings’ entrances. It’s also forbidden to smoke in playgrounds, and public transport means. Smokers are not allowed to light cigarettes in tram stations, metro stations, trolley, and bus stations.
It’s apparent that Hungary has made progress in curbing the use of tobacco. However, formulators of public health policies have been urged to read the emerging literature on vaping and related products like oil vape pen to see their value. Some people argue that when health officials trash e-cigarettes completely, they may throw away the lives of the smokers that could be saved by a switch from traditional cigarette smoking to alternatives that are considered potentially safer.
Hungary could become the first non-smoking country in the world. This will be possible if the Hungarian Parliament passes legislation that prohibits individuals born after 1st January 2020 from smoking. According to media reports, the Hungarian prime minister, János Lázár, parliament can even amend the country’s constitution to ensure that the bill passes. The prime minister also intends to propose making smoking while driving illegal just like using mobile phones while driving is. If the bill passes, Hungary will most likely be the first non-smoking country world over.