A plan to strengthen the crackdown on people evading taxes on imports of tobacco-derived e-cigarette products by claiming the nicotine is synthetic, according to South Korea’s customs agency.
The Korea Customs Service said it had developed a high-precision analysis method to identify whether the nicotine contained in an e-liquid is extracted from natural tobacco or created in a lab.
This method uses a sample preparation technology called derivatization to increase the detection sensitivity of a specific ingredient contained in tobacco leaves by a factor of 30, according to The Korea Biz Wire.
E-liquids in South Korea that use natural nicotine are classified as cigarettes under tax laws, and are therefore being levied an inland duty of 1,799 won ($1.32) per 1 milliliter.
Synthetic nicotine-based e-liquids, however, that are produced with chemical materials are not classified as tobacco cigarettes but as manufactured goods, and are therefore exempt from cigarette consumption taxes.
Accordingly, there are some cases where e-cigarettes using tobacco-derived nicotine are falsely being reported as synthetic nicotine e-cigarettes to avoid taxes.