Belgium: The Federal Public Service for Health, Food Chain Safety and Environment has told TobaccoIntelligence that the draft 2022-2028 Strategy for a Tobacco-Free Generation will be voted on on 14th December by an interministerial conference on public health made up of federal and regional ministers. The plan sets several objectives, including reducing the price gap between different tobacco products; keeping the tobacco industry out of the preparation and implementation of public health policies; improving health promotion policies; a ban on vending machine sales; tighter restrictions on long-distance sales and advertising; and improving the make-up of tobacco products.
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Georgia: The parliamentary Human Rights Protection and Civil Integration Committee has discussed a proposed amendment to the Law on Tobacco Control, media reports. If it is adopted, the regulation of standardised plain packaging for tobacco products, which should come into force on 31st December 2022 under the current legislation, will be put back by two years. The proposal follows industry demands to postpone the regulation due to the war in Ukraine, which was the main manufacturer of tobacco products imported into Georgia.
UK: Tower Hamlets Council in London has announced the seizure by Trading Standards officers of 8,817 g of “illicit banned smokeless tobacco” as well as 640 counterfeit and ‘Potentially dangerous’ e-cigarettes that exceeded the nicotine cap.
France: A joint committee made up of seven assembly members and seven senators has failed to agree a common version of the 2023 Social Security Financing Bill after the Senate adopted a version that would introduce a specific tax category for heated tobacco amounting to €44 per 1,000 consumables plus 45.3% of the tax-inclusive retail sales price (TIRSP) in 2023, €45.50 per 1,000 plus 47.4% of TIRSP in 2024, and €46.40 per 1,000 plus 49.4% of TIRSP in 2025. The bill has now been sent back to the National Assembly for another reading.
Germany: Following a meeting last week when members of the Bundestag discussed a smoking cessation study financed by the Federal Joint Committee, the body responsible for determining what medical care is covered by statutory health insurance, one of the study team has told TobaccoIntelligence that heated tobacco will be given to participants as a harm reduction product. The study has four stages: psychological counselling, nicotine replacement therapy, smoking cessation medication, and harm reduction products.
Bulgaria: The Ministry of Finance is drafting a bill to increase excise duties on tobacco products gradually until 2026, media reports. Heated tobacco products would be taxed at BGN282 (€144) per kg in 2023, BGN331 (€170) per kg in 2024, BGN380 (€195) per kg in 2025 and BGN400 (€205) per kg in 2026. The bill has not been introduced in the parliament yet. The previous government tried to increase the excise duties in June, before being dissolved following a no-confidence vote.
Sweden: Bill 2021/22:245, presented in May by the previous government, has been adopted by the Finance Committee and will be debated in Parliament in the coming weeks. The proposal aims to increase excise duty on tobacco products by 3% in 2023; however, the exact rates are not mentioned in the bill. Starting in 2024, snus would be taxed at SEK508 (€47) per kg, nicotine pouches at SEK202 (€19) per kg, and chewing tobacco at SEK560 (€52) per kg. The Swedish Tax Agency told TobaccoIntelligence that depending on the authorities’ interpretation, there are two possible rates that may apply to heated tobacco consumables, either those on cigarettes or on other tobacco products. Cigarettes would be taxed at SEK1.78 (€0.16) per stick in 2024, while other tobacco products would be taxed at SEK2,166 (€200) per kg.
Italy: The Customs and Monopolies Agency (ADM) has updated the retail prices and excise duties on heated tobacco consumables.
Lithuania: Bill XIVP-2036(2) was today approved at its first reading in Parliament. The proposal aims to strengthen the Drug, Tobacco and Alcohol Control Department (NTAKD)’s power to shut down illegal advertising and online sales of tobacco and tobacco-related products. If it is passed, the NTAKD will be authorised to order internet and network service providers to remove the illegal content.
US - general: According to a new study by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), more than 3m middle and high school students reported using a “tobacco product” in 2022. The study assessed eight commercial products and concluded that for the ninth consecutive year e-cigarettes were the most commonly used tobacco product, followed by cigars, cigarettes and smokeless tobacco.
Netherlands: Public health minister Maarten van Ooijen is investigating the possibility of a total ban on nicotine pouches, media reports. The Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) announced in November 2021 that pouches with more than 0.035 mg of nicotine per pouch could no longer be sold because they are “harmful to health”; now pouches could be banned entirely.
Estonia: The Board of Health, the Ministry of Social Affairs and the World Health Organization (WHO) are among bodies that have submitted comments on the Tobacco Act Amendment Bill. The WHO and the Health Board do not support the bill, saying it would weaken the current regulatory framework. The Ministry of Social Affairs welcomes the regulation of nicotine pouches but suggests a broader regulation of non-tobacco nicotine products, and like the other two bodies rejects the proposals on distance selling and point-of-sale display. The first reading of the bill is scheduled for 15th November.
EAEU: Representatives of all five Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) countries – Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia – attended a meeting in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, to discuss the regulation of nicotine-containing products. Members said all such products were “harmful” and that in line with World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations, heated tobacco products should be considered not as electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) but as tobacco and “regulated as strictly as traditional tobacco products” as there was no evidence that they are any less harmful than cigarettes.
France: The Senate has approved an amendment to the 2023 Social Security Financing Bill presented by Republican senator Catherine Procaccia which would require the government to produce a report assessing the harmfulness of heated tobacco products in comparison to other tobacco and nicotine products, as well as the implementation of taxation system based on the products’ harmfulness.
US - California: As expected, voters in California yesterday passed Proposition 31 to uphold the 2020 legislation banning the sale of flavoured tobacco products. Senate Bill 793 was delayed due to a referendum call by the tobacco industry, which gave the voters the final say. Many local jurisdictions in the state have already passed some sort of restriction on flavoured tobacco products, the sale of which will now be forbidden state-wide.
Chile: The Chamber of Deputies Health Committee yesterday heard the government’s comments on Bill 12626-11, which, together with Bill 12632-11, seeks to equate heated tobacco products with other tobacco products. The committee has set a new deadline of 17th November to end discussion and decide on the bill, which also introduces certain provisions on devices and their components.
Malaysia: Caretaker minister of health Khairy Jamaluddin said today that if the National Front (Barisan Nasional) wins the upcoming general election, to be held on 19th November, and he is reappointed to the post, he will reintroduce the Tobacco and Smoking Control Bill 2022, popularly known as the Generational End Game Bill, press reports. He added that if the Alliance of Hope, currently the largest opposition group, wins the election, former health minister Dzulkefly Ahmad will also ensure that the bill is tabled. Dzulkefly was a member of the parliamentary committee reviewing the bill, which proposes a ban on the sale of tobacco products based on the potential purchaser’s birthdate. An analysis of the impact of the Malaysian elections on the sector is available in our Policy Radar.
Morocco: The governing National Rally of Independents has proposed amending the 2023 Finance Bill, placing an additional tax on the retail sale price of heated tobacco, at a rate of MAD675 ($62.30) per kg, press reports.
US - California: Proposition 31, which aims to uphold Senate Bill 793, is on the state ballot today. A “yes” vote would ban the sale of flavoured tobacco products in California.
Europe: The World Health Organization (WHO) has released a set of videos illustrating what it sees as the harms of heated tobacco products (HTP) and how they differ from e-cigarettes, along with some policy recommendations. It says: “The boundaries between these products are being rigorously blurred by the tobacco industry to confuse users and normalise the use of HTPs and ENDS.” The WHO also reminded regulators of its tobacco control guidance to curb the use of HTP, including recommending banning flavours that appeal to children, prohibiting use in indoor spaces where smoking is not permitted, and banning sales to minors.