Natalia Kornienko, Head of Tax System Development Department of the Gaidar Institute, commented to IA “REGNUM” on the amendments adopted to the draft law on procedure for trade in tobacco heating systems, vapes and nicotine mixtures.
It took a few weeks for the State Duma to agree on the text of the draft law, which did not take into account all the remarks made by the Presidential administration and the reviews of scientific and expert organizations. The draft law was proposed for consideration at the next meeting of the Council of the State Duma and then submit it for the 2nd and 3rd readings.
The new edition is remarkable for the introduction of low restrictions on the content of nicotine in liquids for vaping, as well as a complete ban on the circulation of nickpacks in the territory of the Russian Federation, i.e., tobacco-free portion mixtures containing pharmaceutical nicotine.
The final text turned out to lack balance. The draft law does not take into account a number of positive aspects for the state and society, thereby reflecting an unconstructive approach and contradicting the legislation of the Eurasian Economic Union”, Natalia Kornienko noted.
According to the expert, the only positive result that can be recognized is the spread of "anti-tobacco" restrictions on heated tobacco and vapes. The text of draft law could successfully solve this issue at least half a year ago. Over the following months, the document acquired new restrictions and prohibitions with the most controversial ban on nickpacks, for instance. 
Natalia Kornienko added that there has already been an experience of the illegal flow of cigarettes from Belarus, and the issue of nickpacks will repeat it. Russia will not avoid a wave of smuggling, since nickpacks are legal in Belarus, and there are no borders between our countries. The state will not be able to control the quality of counterfeit products, therefore, threatening human health.
“We already observe an annual growth in the segment of counterfeit cigarettes from Belarus. It will be the same with nickpacks.
 Small business associated with the production and imports of packs will change its registration from Moscow to Minsk and continue operating. The budget of the neighboring country and carriers specializing in counterfeit goods will gain additional profit”, believes the expert of the Gaidar Institute.
It is easy to organize the production of nickpacks. On the other hand, artisanal blends are unstable in nicotine content and can be hazardous to consumers.
 Natalia Kornienko made a comment: “The consequences resulted from use of counterfeit and illegal cigarettes are predictable, however, it cannot be said about nickpacks. Due to poor-quality packs, a series of juvenile poisoning swept across the country in autumn-winter of 2019. The legislative ban on packs will not protect against the risk of recurrence of tragic accidents, but also will even increase such a risk”.
In her opinion, the ban on packs will not solve the problem of nicotine-containing products that are attractive to minors on the shelves and in online sales. 
Natalia Kornienko, the expert of the Gaidar Institute, concluded: “The pack makers were accused of marketing focused on children, specifically: fruit flavors, attractive packaging, promotion in social media. However, all this, firstly, is equally typical for vape industry as there are responsible manufacturers as well as marginal producers. Secondly, it is possible to regulate all aspects of the composition of such products and their marketing without prohibiting the category for adult tobacco consumers, with nicotine packs among them that were in demand in the first place”.