Costa Rica Accelerates E-Cigarette Regulation Legislation

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    On June 18, 2024, Costa Rica’s Constitutional Court issued a significant order to the Ministry of Health, mandating the completion of detailed regulations for Law No. 10,066 within two months. This directive aims to provide a comprehensive legal framework for the regulation of e-cigarettes and heated tobacco devices, addressing the rapidly expanding local market and previous regulatory delays.

    Background of Law No. 10,066

    Initial Legislation

    Law No. 10,066 was announced on January 20, 2022, to regulate nicotine electronic delivery systems (SEAN), similar systems without nicotine (SSSN), and electronic devices using heated tobacco.

    Lack of Specific Regulations:
    Despite its announcement, no specific regulations or guidelines were issued between 2022 and 2024. This regulatory vacuum left e-cigarettes effectively unregulated, creating a need for comprehensive legislation.

    Market Growth

    Import Data:
    According to Costa Rica’s National Customs Service, the import volume of e-cigarettes surged from 1.05 million units in 2022 to 3.3 million units in 2023, reflecting a 217% growth rate.

    Recent Developments and Legal Actions

    Interim Measures

    Ministry of Health Resolution:
    While awaiting formal regulations, the Ministry of Health issued a resolution on May 14, 2024, banning the import, use, and sale of products containing synthetic nicotine and cannabinoids. This interim measure aimed to mitigate immediate public health concerns.

    Legal Appeal and Court Order

    Appeal by Walter Brenes Soto:
    On May 24, 2024, lawyer Walter Brenes Soto filed an appeal, arguing that the Ministry of Health’s delay in issuing regulations infringed on basic rights. The appeal highlighted the regulatory gap and its implications for public health and consumer safety.

    Constitutional Court’s Ruling:
    On June 14, 2024, the Constitutional Court issued Resolution No. 2024016580, accepting Walter Brenes Soto’s appeal. The judges agreed with Brenes’ argument and ordered the Ministry of Health to finalize and publish the regulations within two months, ensuring a structured approach to e-cigarette regulation.

    Implications of the Court Order

    Completion of Regulations

    Deadline for Regulations:
    The Ministry of Health is required to complete and publish detailed regulations for Law No. 10,066 within two months. This directive ensures that a comprehensive legal framework will soon govern the e-cigarette market in Costa Rica.

    Regulatory Clarity:
    The finalized regulations will provide clear guidelines for the import, use, and sale of e-cigarettes, enhancing consumer safety and market order.

    Proposed Amendments to the Law

    Addressing Legal Deficiencies:
    In addition to finalizing current regulations, the Ministry of Health plans to propose amendments to Law No. 10,066. These amendments aim to correct any legal deficiencies and strengthen the law’s coverage, ensuring robust and effective regulation.

    Enhanced Legal Framework:
    The proposed bill will address gaps in the current legislation, making the regulatory framework more comprehensive and adaptable to market changes.

    Impact on the E-Cigarette Market

    Market Regulation

    Controlled Growth:
    With detailed regulations in place, the e-cigarette market in Costa Rica will be more controlled and regulated, reducing the risk of unregulated products and ensuring consumer safety.

    Compliance Requirements:
    E-cigarette manufacturers and distributors will need to comply with the new regulations, including product standards, labeling requirements, and restrictions on sales and marketing.

    Public Health and Safety

    Consumer Protection:
    The new regulations will enhance consumer protection by ensuring that only safe and compliant products are available in the market. This will help mitigate health risks associated with unregulated e-cigarettes.

    Public Health Goals:
    The regulations will support broader public health goals by restricting access to potentially harmful products and promoting safer alternatives for nicotine consumption.


    What is Law No. 10,066?

    Law No. 10,066 is a legislation announced on January 20, 2022, aimed at regulating nicotine electronic delivery systems, similar systems without nicotine, and heated tobacco devices in Costa Rica.

    Why were specific regulations not issued between 2022 and 2024?

    Despite the announcement of the law, detailed regulations were not issued, leaving e-cigarettes effectively unregulated and creating a need for comprehensive guidelines.

    What are the implications of the Constitutional Court’s order for the Ministry of Health?

    The Ministry of Health must complete and publish detailed regulations for Law No. 10,066 within two months, providing a clearer legal framework for the e-cigarette market.

    What future plans does the Ministry of Health have for Law No. 10,066?

    The Ministry of Health plans to propose amendments to Law No. 10,066 to correct legal deficiencies and strengthen its coverage, ensuring robust and effective regulation.