Jamaican use of E-Cigarettes usage set to rise as CAF placed on Tobacco Products

First my Disclaimer: I don’t drink and neither do I smoke, not even e-cigarettes. The only time I light up is when I strike a match to cook some grub or to light up a Citronella Candle to smoke out some mosquitoes similar to the ones described in How to make Environmentally Friendly Citronella (Lemon Grass) Oil for Mosquito Repellant Lotion and Candles. Now on to the news!

On Monday March 11th 2013, the CAF (Customs Administration Fee) was placed on all Tobacco Products. The GOJ expects to rake in some JA%1.2 billion in “Sin” Taxes, on the say-so of the Ministry of Health as they go after a lifestyle habit that’s attributed to Lung Cancer. The Wholesale prices have thus gone up as expected:

  • JA$5,800 for a carton of Craven ‘A’ and Matterhorn

  • JA$$5,900 for a carton of Matterhorn Spotlight

  • JA$4,000 for a carton of Pall Mall menthol and full flavor

Effectively this signaled a death knell for Carrerras Group of Companies, makers of several brands of Cigarettes such as Rothmans and Craven A. It also meant that imported brands would see a spike in their prices….and more attempts to sell Contraband Cigarettes. I didn’t have to wait long, as the Jamaica Customs Contraband Enforcement Team seized illegal cigarettes valued at JA$40,000 in Barbican on Wednesday April 24 2013. More seizures are bound to come in the news.

So with Taxes going on Cigarettes and Rizla Paper, what’s the verdict on e-cigarettes? Word on the street is that it’s the “new lick”. Since the last time I did my article on e-cigarettes back in February 2011 aptly titled The Electronic Cigarette – Puff the Magic Dragon , their popularity among young people is slowly rising.

Referred to as “vaping” among those that smoke ‘em, according to my sources it’s mostly an underground thing, smoked by elitist young trendsetters at VIP Clubs and Parties here on Little Rock called Ja. E-Cigarettes come in various flavours and there’s no second hand smoke, only water vapor. They’re expensive and the refill cartridges have to be imported but are locally available.

No wonder the Jamaica Coalition for Tobacco Control and the Healthy Caribbean Coalition did an article in the Gleaner in August 2010 branding the e-cigarettes as a gateway towards Nicotine Addiction for this very same reason. Ideally, like a Nicotine patch, it should help to kick the habit. But it’s very innocuous and inconspicuous odour that can vary according to your taste means that this is a trend that going to start catching on big time among Millennials (ages 18-28) who can afford them and the teenagers (ages 18-13) who can get their Millennial friends to buy them.

Interestingly too, both the WHO (World Health Organization) and the US Food Regulatory Body, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), have taken a dim view of their claims or indeed their safety. The FDA, in particular has come out swinging, no doubt with their pockets full of Tobacco Lobby money, referring to e-cigarettes as, quote: “Consumers currently have no way of knowing 1) whether e-cigarettes are safe for their intended use, or 2) about what types or concentrations of potentially harmful chemicals or what dose of nicotine they are inhaling when they use these products.”

Amusingly, the only danger may be from the e-cigarettes battery exploding, as had happened to a 57 year old Florida Man. One tooth and a bight of a fright later, he’s none the worse for wear as exploding Batteries in Cellphones, it seems, are common in the US of A. So this is expected. Still more reason NOT to smoke, I’d say!

Despite this, I’m yet to hear of anyone in Jamaica, the Caribbean or elsewhere succeeding in placing liquid THC (Tetra-Hydro Cannabinol), the active ingredient in Marijuana (Cannabis Sativa) into one of those cartridges to create the “grabba” effect that’s glorified by local Dancehall artist PopCaan and Vybz Kartel.

So for now, it’s an Elitist thing which I’m yet to observe in the wild (Read: normal people who don’t watch Cable TV). Still it’s growing popularity worldwide means this trends going to increase, based on the infographic below. This is in much the same way the cheaper smartphone from Digicel, the DL600, will increase the adoption of smartphones in Jamaica as prognosticated in Apple iPhone boosts Jamaican smartphone usage as BB goes Chapter 11 Bankruptcy.


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Lindsworth is a Radio Frequency and Generator Maintenance Technician who has a knack for writing about his work, which is in the Telecoms Engineering Field. An inspired writer on themes as diverse as Autonomous Ants simulations, Power from Lightning and the current Tablet Wars.