In late October 2023, the Serbian Parliament was quite busy with a significant number of legislative changes and novelties on its docket at the 26 October session. One of the items on the list was also the adoption of the long-awaited Law on Amendments to the Law on Tobacco ("Law"), which entered into force on 4 November 2023 ("Effective Date").
According to the legislator, the Law was adopted for the following key reasons:
Businesses to which the Law applies are obliged to comply with its provisions within 60 days from the Effective Date (i.e., by 3 January 2024), with certain specific provisions’ application date being deferred a bit further.
Unlike the previous legislation, the Law regulates tobacco free products with or without nicotine, which in terms of other criteria correspond to tobacco products (referred to in the Law as "Related Products" (in Serbian: srodni proizvodi)).
According to the Law, the following products are classified as Related Products:
Devices for heating tobacco or herbal products and electronic cigarette devices without e-Liquid are not considered Related Products.
As of 1 January 2025, Related Products placed on the Serbian market must, inter alia, comply with the following requirements:
The Law explicitly prohibits the import and sale of tobacco for oral use (snus) on the Serbian market.
The Law also prohibits the following practices:
As of 1 January 2027, individual and group packaging of tobacco products (e.g., cigarettes, cigars, fine cut tobacco, etc.) shall have, inter alia, a combined health warning which comprises a text warning, a photo in colour and smoking cessation information.
The Law introduces a new retail license covering both tobacco products and Related Products. If a retailer holds a valid license for the retail sale of tobacco products, it is permitted to also sell Related Products based on such license. Once this license for the retail of tobacco products expires, the retailer must apply for the newly introduced combined license.
Retailers currently selling Related Products without a license for the retail of tobacco products (such as electronic cigarette shops which do have not sell tobacco products) are permitted to continue selling Related Products provided they submit a request for the newly introduced retail license by 4 December 2023.
The newly introduced combined retail license is valid for two years and the license fee amounts to RSD 25,000 per registered retail object.
An important step towards regulating the market of Related Products is also the establishment of registers of manufacturers and importers of Related Products.
The registration fee amounts to RSD 5 million and can be paid in five equal annual instalments and the registration decision is issued for a five-year period.
Business entities that have already manufactured and/or imported Related Products prior to the Effective Date may continue performing such activities provided they submit a request for the registration in the relevant register by 4 December 2023.