Posted by Vranks on October 11, 2013 Under E Cigarette Legislation

On October 8, the European Parliament voted against Amendment 71 or the new Tobacco Products Directive, which would have seen electronic cigarettes regulated as medical products and sold only in pharmacies.

It’s not clear whether it was the pleas of reputed physicians, the information campaigns of organizations like the Electronic Cigarette Industry Trade Association (ECITA) or just common sense that made the lawmakers see reason, but in the end they voted against the proposal to regulate e cigarettes as pharmaceuticals, a measure that would virtually annihilate the electronic cigarette market as we know it, allow Big Tobacco to handle its business as usual and put these revolutionary devices in the hands of pharmaceutical companies. Despite heavy lobbying and waves of unsubstantiated claims that e cigarettes are nothing but a gateway to smoking and that they undermine years of anti smoking campaign progress, the Members of the European Parliament decided to reject Amendment 71 and instead treat electronic cigarettes as they do conventional tobacco cigs.

This is a fantastic result for public health and the millions of smokers around Europe who are switching to e cigarettes, said Charles Hamshaw Thomas, corporate affairs director of E Lites, the UK’s largest electronic cigarette brand by sales volume. Common sense has prevailed. Companies like E Lites, supported by thousands of e cigarette users had lobbied hard against the restrictive medical regulation proposed in the new tobacco directive, and welcome the result of Tuesday’s vote as a major victory. However, another disputed proposal, Amendment 170, was passed. It includes measures to restrict the sale of e liquids with a nicotine content over 30 mg, the mandatory inclusion of health warnings and advertising restrictions. “The key aim of today was getting rid of medical legislation,” ECITA spokesperson Katherine Devlin said. However, from our perspective there is still a lot wrong with amendment 170, and over the coming weeks we will be ensuring that it is appropriate.” She claims there are already seventeen directives that apply to electronic cigarettes, including testing processes and safety measures such as child proof caps for e liquid, and electronics and battery testing for hardware.

The European Parliament’s decision to toughen up regulations on tobacco products, but pull back on the issue of regulating electronic cigarettes as medicinal products has put them on a collision course with the European Council, whose members voted in favor of Amendment 71. “The proposition to regulate them as tobacco products won with a majority. That s probably the biggest difference with Council now, said Linda McAvan, the Parliament s rapporteur for the legislation, in a press conference. However, she hopes to negotiate an agreement between Parliament and Council by Christmas. After that, the new Tobacco Products Directive has to be discussed with the national governments of all member states.

Although the fight on the European front is not yet over, experts believe that after Tuesday’s vote, the finish line is finally in sight, after one of the hottest debates in the history of the European Union. Faced with what seemed a very stiff opposition from European lawmakers, electronic cigarettes managed to come out on top. We have yet to see if their decision will have any influence on the upcoming regulations from the Food and Drug Administration, in the United States. The FDA is expected to finally announce its proposed regulations by the end of October, although the federal shutdown could push back that deadline.

Sources New York Times,

Fbi – eleven indicted in alleged conspiracy to distribute drugs, launder money, and sell millions in contraband cigarettes

Brand architecture marlboro

BALTIMORE A federal grand jury has indicted 11 individuals on charges related to a conspiracy to traffic more than $6.6 million in contraband cigarettes. The indictment was returned on December 3, 2013, and unsealed today upon the arrest of eight defendants and the execution of 12 search warrants.

Charged in the indictment are

  • Elmar Rakhamimov, a/k/a “Eric Rakhamimov,” age 41, of Owings Mills, Maryland
  • Zarakh Yelizarov, age 51, of Baltimore, Maryland
  • Salim Yusufov, age 43, of Baltimore
  • Artur Zakharyan, age 52, of Owings Mills
  • Ilgar Rakhamimov, age 39, of Owings Mills
  • Timur Yusufov, age 35, of Baltimore
  • Nikolay Zakharyan, age 23, of Owings Mills
  • Adam Azerman, age 59, of Pikesville
  • Shamil Novakhov, age 58, of Brooklyn, New York
  • Yuliya Rakhamimov, age 33, of Owings Mills
  • Ruslan Ykiew, age 38, of Brooklyn, New York

The indictment was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein Special Agent in Charge Stephen E. Vogt of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Chief James W. Johnson of the Baltimore County Police Department Special Agent in Charge Antoinette V. Henry of the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations and Special Agent in Charge Nicholas DiGiulio, Office of Investigations, Office of Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services.

“The indictment alleges that the defendants participated in a criminal conspiracy to traffic in illegal drugs and contraband cigarettes and launder the criminal proceeds through wire transfers to Eastern European countries,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein.

“FDA s regulatory standards are designed to ensure the safety and quality of drugs distributed to American consumers,” said Special Agent inCharge Antoinette V. Henry, FDA s Office of Criminal Investigations. “We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to investigate all persons who disregard regulatory requirements and jeopardize the public health by participating in the distribution of unapproved products.”

The 42 count indictment alleges that the defendants are family members and associates who primarily live in northwest Baltimore County and New York City and operate businesses in the Pikesville area of Baltimore County and in Baltimore City, including Healthway Pharmacy and Europe Restaurant. In addition to trafficking in contraband cigarettes, that is, cigarettes on which the applicable state taxes have not been paid, the indictment alleges that some of the defendants also have distributed oxycodone, sold drug samples, and laundered money.

According to the indictment, the cigarette tax in Maryland is $2.00 per package of cigarettes ($20 per carton of cigarettes) and the cigarette tax in New York is $4.35 per package of cigarettes ($43.50 per carton of cigarettes). Specifically, the indictment alleges that since December 2011, Elmar Rakhamimov has paid approximately $5.4 million for contraband cigarettes, which were received and stored at his residence in Maryland. The conspirators then transported the cigarettes to the New York area and resold them for a profit. According to the indictment, Elmar Rakhamimov, Artur Zakharyan, and Ilgar Rakhamimov acted as a broker, middleman, and distributor of contraband cigarettes, and Nikolay Zakharyan, Adam Azerman, Shamil Novakhov, and Ruslan Ykiew transported contraband cigarettes to New York and other cities for resale. Elmar Rakhamimov and Yuliya Rakhamimov sometimes paid for the contraband cigarettes with prescription and counterfeit prescription drugs, as well as other controlled substances. Elmar Rakhamimov and other conspirators used Rakhamimov s residence and his restaurant to conduct the illegal transactions of contraband cigarettes and drugs. The indictment alleges that Salim Yusufov, who owned Healthway Pharmacy, received more than $81,000 in kickbacks for the contraband cigarette transactions.

Further, the indictment alleges that Elmar Rakhamimov and Zarakh Yelizarov conducted financial transactions involving the proceeds of the contraband cigarette sales, in order to conceal the nature, source, ownership, and control of the proceeds of the illegal activity. Specifically, the indictment alleges that Rakhamimov and Yelizarov conducted wire transfers of cash from bank accounts they controlled in Latvia, Cyprus, and Estonia.

In a separate indictment, Salim Yusufov, who owned and operated Healthway Pharmacy in Pikesville, is charged with illegally providing unapproved prescription drugs from Germany and Eastern Europe and sold them to customers. According to the indictment, Corvalol, also referred to Corvalolum and Valocordin, is not approved by the FDA for distribution in the United States, although it is sold in Eastern European countries, where it is used to treat elevated blood pressure and as a tranquilizer and sedative. Valocordin and Corvalol contain large amounts of phenobarbital, a prescription drug regulated by the FDA. The indictment alleges that from July 23, 2010 through July 14, 2011, Yusufov imported and distributed Valocordin, dispensing the drug without a prescription.

All the defendants except Yuliya Rakhamimov face a maximum sentence of five years in prison for conspiracy to traffic in contraband cigarettes and for each of 18 counts of trafficking in contraband cigarettes. Elmar and Yuliya Rakhamimov face a maximum of 20 years in prison for each of 10 counts of distribution of oxycodone and Elmar Rakhamimov and Zarakh Yelizarov face a maximum of 20 years in prison for each of 12 counts of money laundering. Elmar Rakhamimov also faces 10 years in prison for sale of a drug sample.

Salim Yusufov also faces a maximum of three years in prison for each of five counts of receipt and delivery of misbranded drugs and for each of five counts of dispensing prescription drugs without a prescription.

Six of the defendants are scheduled to have initial appearances this afternoon in U.S. District Court in Baltimore. Shamil Novakhov and Ruslan Ykiew were arrested in New York and will have initial appearances this afternoon in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the FBI, Baltimore County Police Department, U.S. Food & Drug Administration Office of Criminal Investigations, and Office of Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Investigations for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorneys Paul E. Budlow and John W. Sippel, Jr., who are prosecuting the case.