LANGUAGE

Vapeadores de México v. México

Vapeadores de México asked the Federal Commission for the Protection Against Sanitary Risks (COFEPRIS) to whether the import, distribution, and sale of e-cigarettes and e-liquids required the issuance of an authorization or license and/or health permit and what requirements must be met. COFEPRIS responded that the General Law on Tobacco Control does not contemplate that and that the importation and sale of those products are banned under the scope of Article 16(VI), which states: "It is prohibited to trade, sell, distribute, display, promote or produce any object that is not a tobacco product, that contains some of the brand elements or any type of design or auditory sign that identifies it with tobacco products." Unhappy with the response, Vapeadores de México filed an Amparo action alleging violations of the constitutional principles of equality, legality, and non-discrimination.

The Ministers of the Second Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN) decided in unanimity that it is unconstitutional to ban the sale of electronic cigarettes while, on the other hand, the sale of tobacco products is allowed in Mexico. The Court upheld previous courts' decisions, considering that even though the law seeks to protect the right to health, this cannot be done at the cost of an excessive affectation of other goods and rights. The Ministers agreed that prohibiting the sale of these products in order to protect public health and the environment violates the right to equality and the proportionality principle since, at the same time, the sale of tobacco products is allowed.

This ruling applies only to the plaintiff who was a party to this case, Vapeadores de México. However, if the same court issues five judgments with identical holdings, the decision would be binding nationally. This is the second such decision by the Second Chamber.