Belgium is intent on bringing herbal products under the regulations for heated tobacco, while making the rules easier to understand.
Herbal products and devices will fall under the Belgian regulatory framework for tobacco if a bill to incorporate Commission Delegated Directive (EU) 2022/2100, submitted into the EU TRIS database, goes into effect unchanged.
A public comment period for the bill ends on 26th July and if any EU member states or the European Commssion register opinions, the standstill period could be extended by three months, according to Eugénie Bertrand, senior legal attaché at the Belgian Public Health Service.
TobaccoIntelligence believes the requirement for heated herbal products to be nicotine-free could prove to be particularly signficant.
The bill introduces requirements for notification, packaging and labelling, with both devices and consumables subject to strict guidelines, necessitating a mandatory notification process, Bertrand said.
Under its terms, manufacturers and importers of herbal smoking products must provide authorities with a detailed list of ingredients, quantities, branding, and product type, along with a compliant label. This ensures that only products that fulfil administrative notification obligations, confirmed by the Public Health Service, can be legally sold in Belgium.
Before and after
A preliminary royal decree revises the existing decree from February 2016, governing the production and sale of tobacco and herbal smoking products. The revision aims to enhance clarity, making the document easier to understand.
The given definition of “product” now includes both tobacco and herbal smoking products, while the scope of the decree has been expanded to cover all devices used for consuming tobacco or herbal smoking products.
Previously, it only covered devices for new tobacco products. Now, all devices used in consuming tobacco or herbal smoking products, such as waterpipes and vaporisers, are subject to corresponding provisions on notification and labelling, and a ban on distance selling.
The revised decree includes a definition for heated tobacco products, aligning it with Delegated Directive 2022/2100. Stricter labelling requirements apply to this new category.
Heated products that contain other plant substances, but not tobacco, will be subject to the provisions applicable to herbal smoking products.
Article 4 of the decree has been updated to include notification requirements for all products, including tobacco and herbal smoking products. The notification process will require details of both the manufacturer and importer. The decree also mandates device notification, excluding pipes and waterpipes.
Requirements on the composition of both novel tobacco and herbal smoking products will become stricter. For example, they may not have filters, paper or capsules that contain either tobacco or nicotine.
Each unit packet of herbal smoking products and any outer packaging must bear the health warning: “Smoking this product harms your health.”
Each unit packet of a device and every outer packaging must state: “Consumption of a tobacco product or herbal product for smoking with this device is detrimental to your health.”
Neither unit packets, external packaging, nor the product itself, should promote a product with false information about its characteristics, health effects, risks, or emissions. It should not suggest that a product is less harmful than others or has specific health benefits, nor mention taste, smell, aroma, or the presence of additives.
Only in Hungary
Packaging should not resemble that of food or cosmetic items, nor imply that a product is biodegradable or has environmental advantages.
Unit packets and any outer packaging should not suggest any economic benefits, such as discounts. Distance selling and purchasing by the consumer of products and devices are prohibited.
The bill allows for tobacco products and herbal smoking products manufactured or placed on the market in accordance with the royal decree of 5th February 2016 to be sold until 31st December 2024.
In Europe, so far only Hungary – where tobacco-free herbal sticks may only be sold by tobacconists – seems to have implemented a framework for heated herbal products.
The amendment addresses the popularity of such products and resolves contradictions in the previous system, ensuring proper control. Previously, herbal sticks and tobacco-free herbal products have avoided excise tax and marketing restrictions, while the heating devices required for their use could only be purchased in tobacco shops.
– Sonia Romero TobaccoIntelligence contributing writer
Photo: Dimitris Vetsikas