• June 15, 2024

Panama Vape Ban Ruled Unconstitutional

 Panama Vape Ban Ruled Unconstitutional

Credit: Alexey Novikov

The Supreme Court of Justice in Panama has ruled unanimously that Panama’s ban on the sale of all vaping products is unconstitutional.

According to several media reports, the ruling, announced last week, was in response to a lawsuit brought by the Asociación por la Reducción de Daños del Tabaquismo de Panamá (ARDT Panama), a vaping consumer advocacy group.

The court found that Law 315 violated parliamentary procedures spelled out in Article 170 of the Panamanian constitution, according to Panama America.

Law 315 prohibited the sale and import of all vaping and heated tobacco products, with or without nicotine. It also banned online sales, prohibited vaping in any place where smoking is not allowed, and gave customs authorities the right to inspect, detain, and seize shipments into the Central American country.

The law passed the National Assembly in 2021, and was given assent by Panamanian President Laurentino Cortizo nearly a year later, on June 30, 2022. Panama had previously prohibited vape sales under a 2014 health ministry decree.

The ARDT Panama lawsuit challenged the vaping ban on the basis that it violated the constitutional right to health (depriving people who smoke of a lower-risk substitute). Also, it alleged that the National Assembly violated technical parliamentary rules in passing the law.

According to El Capital Financiero, the legal challenge was also supported by the Association of Smokers and Families for a Smoke-Free Panama and the Medicinal Cannabis Association of Panama.

It’s unclear if the high court also weighed in on the health-based challenge.