US – federal: The House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Accountability has announced that it is investigating the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s Center for Tobacco Products (CTP). Republican committee chairman James Comer has written to FDA commissioner Robert Califf, accusing the CTP of failing to effectively define and administer its tobacco and nicotine regulatory programmes, “[fostering] uncertainty in the marketplace and [allowing] unsafe and unregulated products to proliferate”. “A recent evaluation of CTP by the Reagan-Udall Foundation (RUF) found that CTP has not clearly set out the most basic elements of its tobacco and nicotine regulatory programs,” Comer said. He is requesting documents, communications, and a staff-level briefing related to the CTP’s activities.
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Slovenia: A 30-day public consultation ends today on a Ministry of Health bill to bring nicotine pouches under the Tobacco Law, making them subject to age, sales and advertising restrictions and notification requirements. The bill would also classify heated tobacco products as smoking products, making them subject to the health warning requirements set out in the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) and transpose Commission Delegated Directive (EU) 2022/2100, bringing the EU-wide heated tobacco flavour ban into national law.
Belgium: Health minister Frank Vandenbroucke has banned the sale of nicotine pouches, and cannabinoid-containing pouches, through a royal decree which will come into force on 1st July (or 1st October for retailers). Vandenbroucke announced in January his intention to ban the pouches after the Belgian government notified a proposal to that effect to the TRIS database in June 2022. That proposal received negative opinions from Croatia, Hungary and Sweden, while the European Commission made no comment.
Argentina: A Health Ministry decree came into force yesterday, banning the importation, distribution, sale and advertising of heated tobacco devices and consumables. An official ministry statement said that although heated tobacco products were promoted as low-risk products, “so far no independent study has shown that they are harmless to health. On the contrary, some investigations have verified that they contain many of the toxic substances that common cigarettes have, in some cases in a higher degree of concentration.”
Brazil: The director of the National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa), Antonio Barra Torres, has told media that a resolution of the legal status of e-cigarettes and heated tobacco will probably be reached this year, possibly by the end of June. He said he did not want to anticipate whether that would involve prohibition or authorisation of the products because of the impact it would have on the market.
Bulgaria: The Customs authority has told TobaccoIntelligence that BGN55,308,468 (€28.27m) was collected in tax on heated tobacco products in 2020; BGN44,932,636 (€22.96m) in 2021; and BGN68,710,194 (€35.12m) in 2022. Nicotine pouches are not subject to excise tax in Bulgaria.
Switzerland: A study conducted last year by the Swiss Addiction Foundation, funded by the Federal Office of Public Health and involving 9,345 students, found 4% of boys and 3% of girls aged 15 had used heated tobacco at least once in the preceding 30 days. The foundation is urging the government to take measures on advertising, sales, price, packaging and flavours.
US - federal: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has published a new webpage listing all the tobacco products-related citizen petitions received by the agency’s Center for Tobacco Products (CTP). A citizen petition is a way for individuals, regulated industry representatives, or consumer groups to petition the FDA to issue, amend, or revoke a regulation, or to take other administrative action.
Cambodia: During a seminar yesterday on e-cigarettes and related products, education minister Kim Sethany told school managers to ramp up enforcement of the ban on e-cigs and heated tobacco, which she said were widely known by Cambodian teenagers through advertising on social media, press reports.
UK: The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ruled that the heated tobacco retailer Neafs breached the Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) code by featuring images on its website of people who appeared to be under 25 holding and using a Neafs device. It was determined that one of the models would have been 24 at the time the advertisement was published, putting it in breach of the code.
Czech Republic: An amendment to the Act on the Protection of Health from the Harmful Effects of Addictive Substances comes into force today, bringing changes to the regulation of nicotine pouches. Retailers have a three-month period to adapt to the new rules, which place pouches under the same restrictions on sales and public use as tobacco and e-cigarettes, including the ban on sales to under-18s.
Taiwan: Amendments to tobacco legislation banning all types of e-cigarette and regulating heated tobacco products will come into force tomorrow. Heated tobacco products will have to undergo a health risk assessment before they can be sold in Taiwan. E-cigarette retailers risk fines of between TWD200,000 ($6,500) and TWD1m ($32,800), while anyone caught vaping could be fined TWD2,000 ($65) to TWD10,000 ($328).
UK: The government will unveil a set of proposals in the coming weeks aimed at realising the goal of a “Smokefree 2030” and responding to the recommendations in the Khan Review, according to junior health minister Neil O’Brien.
UK: Lancashire Police and Trading Standards officers last week seized 1,024 counterfeit e-cigarettes and tobacco products in the town of Preston. Together they would have been worth around £7,000 if genuine.
Italy: The Council of Ministers has adopted a bill to delegate a tax reform to the government. Among other things, it aims to review the administrative procedures for the sales network for tobacco products, e-cigarettes and nicotine pouches. The bill should come before Parliament in May.
US - California: A US federal judge has granted a motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought by RJ Reynold and other tobacco companies against California’s statewide ban on the sale of flavoured tobacco and vaping products. Judge Cathy Ann Bencivengo said: “SB 793 does not control the retail sales of these products in other states, nor does it control the ability of manufacturers in or outside of California to continue manufacturing flavored tobacco products. In fact, manufacturers are still permitted to manufacture flavored tobacco products in California.” Reynolds and others brought the suit after California’s voters approved the ban in a November referendum. They claimed the law violated both the federal Tobacco Control Act (TCA) and the commerce clause in the US Constitution.
US - Nevada: Assembly Bill 294 has passed its first reading and been referred to the Committee on Health and Human Services. It would ban the sale of tobacco products and e-cigarettes with any flavour other than tobacco. It would also ban cigarette sales to anyone born after 31st December 2002; and bar the Nevada Department of Taxation from issuing a licence to any vending machine operator, manufacturer or wholesale dealer in cigarettes after 31st December 2028. It is unclear if these last measures would apply to heated tobacco products or e-cigarettes, since there is no definition of “cigarette” in the bill.
Netherlands: The House of Representatives has approved a motion calling on the government to introduce licensing requirements for tobacco sales outlets, media reports.
Finland: The Ministry of Finance has confirmed to TobaccoIntelligence that heated tobacco products have been subject to excise tax since 1st January 2022, but said no such products are on the market in Finland. The ministry also confirmed that tobacco-free nicotine pouches are not subject to excise tax.
Qatar: The General Customs Authority has confirmed to TobaccoIntelligence that nicotine pouches are legal and can be imported by companies for commercial purposes under the Harmonised System (HS) code 24049130. The authority said no special labelling rules applied, but that importers should follow the general clearance procedures on the customs portal (Nadeeb), and that pouches are subject to an excise tax of 100%.
EU: The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) last week gave a preliminary ruling, as requested by the German Federal Court of Justice, on the interpretation of Article 8(3) of the Tobacco Products Directive, which states that health warnings on tobacco products must not be “partially or totally hidden” when they are placed on the market. The court said the fact that tobacco products are enclosed in vending machines, preventing health warnings from being seen from the outside, does not mean the warnings are “hidden” within the meaning of the directive.
EU: Answering questions from MEPs Johan Nissinen of the right-wing Sweden Democrats and Anne-Sophie Pelletier of the French Left on when the proposal reviewing the Tobacco Excise Directive (TED) would be presented, the European Commission stated that “the revision is currently being finalised”, and ”a planned adoption date will be indicated in due course”.
Italy: The Customs and Monopolies Agency (ADM) has published a notice issued to retailers last week telling them to suspend sales of nicotine pouches until the Ministry of Health has analysed the content and safety of those currently on the market.
Slovenia: The National Institute of Public Health has supported a Ministry of Health bill which seeks to include nicotine pouches within the category of “related products” in the legal framework for tobacco products and to transpose the European Commission directive setting out the EU-wide heated tobacco flavour ban. The institute also recommends further restrictions, such as limiting sales points, extending the flavour ban to nicotine pouches, and banning the sale of chewing tobacco and snuff.