A new type of disposable electric cigarette is gaining ground in the domestic illegal market. The National Tax and Customs Administration (NAV) and the Regulatory Authority for Regulated Activities (SZTFH) are strictly controlling the illegal trade in products and have recently organized several actions to filter out this specialty tobacco product, which is also popular with young people, on the black market. The balance of the last few weeks alone is at least HUF 135 million of seized goods, 4 detentions, and a fine of HUF 20 million, NAV and SZTFH wrote in a joint statement sent to hirado.hu.
The announcement emphasizes that the SZTFH continuously monitors the prevailing trends in the tobacco market and regularly consults with NAV on the observed anomalies. Recently, the infringing distribution of the product also known as Elf Bar, Fume, Magic Bar, Manórúd came to the attention of SZTFH’s security unit. The Elf Bar is a battery-powered, disposable, imitation smoking device pre-filled with nicotine or nicotine-free liquid. Due to its ease of use and compact packaging, it is becoming increasingly popular, especially among the young.
The president of the SZTFH added that the sudden outbreak of Elf Bar, as an illegal product, it had not passed the semi-annual inspection of the National Institute of Pharmacy and Food Health (OGYÉI), which goes through all the products on the market. It will definitely not go before OGYÉI for distribution purposes: both NAV and SZTFH have indicated that they will certainly not support the legalization of the Elf Bar. On the one hand, because of its flavorings, it essentially acts as a gateway drug, and on the other hand, because it pollutes the environment because of its disposable.
They added that Elf Bar is a tobacco product under the current rules, so it could only be legally sold in traffic, with a seal, and only in a non-flavored version. Yet it is increasingly being offered for sale in online ads, the Facebook Marketplace, various closed groups, Instagram and TikTok as well. Salespeople typically communicate with their customers on Messenger.
The goods arrive in large batches from the Chinese market in Slovakia and Budapest. As there are no mandatory regulations at EU level for electronic tobacco products, the rules on licensing, distribution and taxation differ from one Member State to another. Anyone who sells such products in Hungary without a license carries a fine of between HUF 5 million and HUF 500 million.
To prevent the Elf Bar from selling black, NAV’s inspection department is trying to thwart illegal sellers, and deployment and criminalization personnel are investigating properties that could be linked to sellers, seizing illegal tobacco products and detaining traffickers.
NAV is increasingly finding Elf Bart in criminal gangs selling illegal cigarettes and tobacco products, and the product is already being counterfeited. The in-depth inspections of the NAV Airport Directorate also feature a package containing Elf Bart more and more, as the sellers also use the parcel delivery services of various courier services for the screening.
According to the announcement, NAV has seized a total of 30,000 products worth HUF 135 million in the countryside and in Budapest alone in recent weeks, with the largest catch being an 18,000 item shipped in China in the capital. 4 illegal traders have already been detained in the actions. The Tobacco Directorate of the SZTFH registered a total of 25 cases, of which it imposed fines totaling HUF 20 million in 4 cases.