After years of debate around classification – liberalisation versus strict regulation, similar to smoking tobacco – the legislative environment of vaping and the distribution of vapour products were mostly outlined by 2017. The decision was made to classify vaping as smoking, and despite an appeal by the Vapers’ Association to the constitutional court, vaping fell under the same ban as smoking in public places.
The most important change for vapour products in 2017 was the introduction of the excise tax on nicotine-containing e-liquids. The tax rate is drastically high at HUF55 per millilitre, which means that the price of a 10ml e-liquid, which is normally purchased, rose by HUF550 in the year, from an average of HUF900-1,000 to HUF1,500-1,600, as the 27% VAT is also charged on top of the excise tax.
Vaping has started to spread in Hungary to a large extent, because cigarette smoking has become very costly due to the tax increases. The introduction of the smoking ban in most public places has also been influential, but most users switched to vaping because of cost-efficiency considerations.
The retailing of e-liquids became more concentrated in 2017 because of changes in regulations. It was decided that from 2017 only properly registered products could remain in distribution; the brand owner has to pay the distribution administration fees as a condition to be present in the official National Tobacco Store network.
Most vapour devices are imported from China, the leading brands being Joyetech eGO, KangerTech, Eleaf and Aspire, from the Shenzhen industrial region. There are also some small Hungarian companies that import and rebrand Chinese vaping systems.
As in Hungary open vaping systems are the most commonly used products among vapers, popular new products are almost exclusively falling into this category. Currently, vapers are looking for more compact, more elegant and better-performing machines, eg the POD pocket and squonk mod type devices, but they are not yet registered due to the lengthy, costly approval and registration process and are therefore only available through black trade or cross-border import.
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