EU: French MEP Jean-Paul Garraud has submitted a parliamentary question to the European Commission about the European Ombudsman’s recent finding that there was a lack of transparency over meetings between the Commission and tobacco lobbyists. Garraud asks why the EC is not complying with the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), which requires all interactions between public administrations and the tobacco industry to be transparent, and why the Commission can’t explain why the meetings were necessary.
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Italy: The Customs and Monopolies Agency (ADM) has told TobaccoIntelligence that Article 39-ter of Legislative Decree 504/1995 extends the tax framework for heated tobacco to heated herbal products. The heated herbal product price needs to be registered with the ADM, excise duty applies as to heated tobacco, and products must bear a tax stamp. The tax warehouse framework also applies.
Philippines: The Bureau of Internal Revenue has updated price controls on heated tobacco products. A pack of 20 sticks now has a floor price of PHP120.40 ($2.16), taking into account excise duty, VAT and reasonable production costs.
Egypt: The president’s health adviser, Mohamed Tag-Eldin, has told TV viewers that heated tobacco is no safer than combustible cigarettes and can have serious side effects such as poisoning, lung damage and nerve inflammation.
Latvia: A bill to ban heated tobacco flavours, implementing an EU delegated directive, will be debated by the Saeima (parliament) on 11th May. It is expected to be passed before the European Commission’s 23rd July deadline.
UK: In answer to a written parliamentary question, junior health minister Neil O’Brien said there were no current plans to increase the purchasing age for tobacco and e-cigarettes to 21. “Our assessment is that an increase in the age of sale would be a major departure from the policy pursued over recent decades, which has emphasised personal responsibility and help for people to quit,” he said.
Kazakhstan: The Ministry of Finance is aiming to increase the minimum retail prices for heated tobacco products, media reports. If the draft amendment is adopted, after a public consultation due to end on 19th May, the minimum price for a pack of 20 consumables will rise to KZT710 ($1.60) on 1st July, then again to KZT770 ($1.73) on 1st January 2024.
Saudi Arabia: The Ministry of Rural Affairs and Housing has introduced an initial draft through the public consultation platform on the requirements for offering tobacco and e-cigarettes on hospitality premises. The proposal prohibits signs advertising the use of tobacco and requires any premises selling tobacco to post a price list. It also requires health warning signs and a warning against providing tobacco to minors. The proposal will be under consideration until 10th May.
Iraq: The Erbil Governorate in Kurdistan yesterday issued a notice prohibiting the marketing and advertising of all tobacco products through the media, either written, visual, audio or social, press reports. Iraq’s anti-smoking law bans the advertising of tobacco, but does not directly mention the advertising of novel nicotine products.
US - general: Senator Dick Durbin and 20 of his colleagues have written to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner Robert Califf, urging the agency to promptly finalise its proposed rule to end the sale of menthol cigarettes, announced in April 2022. “We urge the FDA to act with urgency to solidify and enforce the ban on these harmful products,” reads the letter, in which the senators also request responses on the FDA’s timeline for finalising and enforcing the regulation.
Slovenia: Excise duty on heated tobacco products rose yesterday to from €110 to €116 per kg of tobacco. That rate will apply until 1st November, when it will rise again to €122 per kg.
Russia: President Vladimir Putin has signed into law a bill tightening regulation of heated tobacco products. The new law restricts retail sale of devices in line with the rules that already apply to consumables; prohibits discounts on devices and bans their display in stores. From 1st September heat-not-burn (HnB) consumables will be subject to a minimum price, to be determined by the government.
Dominican Republic: Members of the centre-left Modern Revolutionary Party (PRM), the ruling party, have reaffirmed support for a bill to regulate e-cigarettes and heated tobacco devices, including banning their sale to under-18s, press reports. The bill also has the backing of the opposition Fuerza del Pueblo (People’s Force) party.
Denmark: The Ministry of Health has submitted to Parliament a bill to adopt the EU definition of heated tobacco and ban heated tobacco flavours. If adopted, the bill will come into force on 23rd October.
Belgium: The government has notified on the EU TRIS database a bill to transpose Commission Delegated Directive (EU) 2022/2100 on the withdrawal of certain exemptions for heated tobacco products. The bill would bring the EU flavour ban into national law, define heat-not-burn (HnB) as novel tobacco products for smoking and apply health warnings as for smokable tobacco products. It would extend the current framework for smokable herbal products to heated herbal products and bring heated tobacco and heated herbal devices within the tobacco framework, introducing notification, packaging and labelling requirements. It would also bring in a long-distance sales ban on all products and devices and update notification fees. The standstill period for comments ends on 26th July.
Serbia: Deputy health minister Jelena Janković has told media the ministry is hoping the smoking ban in cafes and restaurants will be adopted before the end of the year. Previous reports suggested the ban would also extend to vaping and heated tobacco, however as the official proposal has not been made public, it is unclear if the bill might make an exception for tobacco alternatives.
India: The Supreme Court has stayed an order by the Madras High Court that quashed the Tamil Nadu food safety commissioner’s decision to ban the manufacture, storage, transport, distribution and sale of gutkha, pan masala and other chewable products containing tobacco or nicotine, press reports. It means the sale of such products remains banned in Tamil Nadu, a southern state with a population of 76m.
Slovakia: A proposal has been submitted to the National Council (parliament) to amend Act 89/2016 on the production, labelling and sale of tobacco and related products, implementing Commission Delegated Directive (EU) 2022/2100. It would introduce a definition of heated tobacco products, ban flavours for heated tobacco, and subject it to the same packaging rules as tobacco for smoking. If adopted, the amendment will come into force on 23rd October.
Belgium: The Superior Health Council has issued a report on the impact of cigarette filters on public health and the environment, calling for them to be banned nationally and at EU level. It says analysis shows that filters do not reduce the harmful effects of tobacco on health and have a clear negative impact on the environment as they are very slow to decompose. Though the report does not mention heated tobacco products or other alternative nicotine products, the council recommendations might have an impact on those products too.
Germany: Federal drug commissioner Burkhard Blienert has called for stricter rules on tobacco advertising, after a survey of 1,383 people conducted by the Federal Drug Commission found that three-quarters supported a complete ban. “The overpresence of large-scale advertising for alcohol, for tobacco and e-cigarettes at kiosks and petrol stations, and for gambling on television, is a major problem for Germany’s consumer protection, youth and health policies,” Blienert said. “Politicians can’t ignore that any longer.”
EU: Swedish MEP Sara Skyttedal has submitted a question to the European Commission asking whether it sees any conflict of interest in the awarding of the Single Framework Contract for Support Actions in the Field of Tobacco Control to the European Network for Smoking Prevention (ENSP). According to Skyttedal, “the ENSP lobbies the Commission on tobacco policy and advocates for a total ban on safer nicotine products”. She also asked how the Commission will ensure that a broad range of views is taken into account in its tobacco policy.
India: A former Parliament member has published an academic paper concluding that the national ban on heat-not-burn (HnB) products ordered by the government in 2019 has been unsuccessful. Rajeev Gowda said the country should lift the ban and instead regulate heated tobacco through the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA). Gowda also suggested commissioning studies on how HnB products can be used as a harm-reduction tool and smoking-cessation aid.
Vietnam: Ngo Khai Hoan, deputy director of the Ministry of Industry and Trade, said during a seminar on the regulation of new generation tobacco products that a draft amendment to Decree 67/2013, regulating heated tobacco and e-cigarettes, is expected to be submitted to the government in the second quarter of 2023.
EU: The independent European Ombudsman has found a lack of transparency in meetings between the European Commission and tobacco lobbyists, suggesting that it amounts to maladministration. The ombudsman was concerned about a failure to publish details of the Commission’s meetings with lobbyists, and a failure to keep minutes of all meetings that took place in 2020 and 2021. The Commission has been asked to respond to the preliminary findings by mid-July.
Italy: The Market and Competition Authority (AGCM) has launched an investigation into British American Tobacco (BAT) and Amazon over alleged misleading advertising of the Glo Hyper X2 heated tobacco device. According to the AGCM, promotion for the device omitted information or provided misleading information about the health risks of using it.
Morocco: The Ministry of Economy and Finance issued Decision No. 890.23/2023, approving the sales prices of heated tobacco products. The ministry approved a price of MAD35 ($3.50) per unit each for Farstar Regular, Amber, Menthol, Lemon, and Blueberry products.
Algeria: During an oral question session in the parliament, member of parliament (MP) Abdelkader Qouri asked the minister of industry and pharmaceutical production, Ali Aoun, about the strategies the ministry would adopt to combat illicit products on the market, and called for an amendment to the current tobacco regime to facilitate the manufacture and import processes of tobacco products. Aoun emphasised the need to combat tobacco use and said there are no plans to change the current regime.
US - Texas: House Bill 4481 is scheduled for a public hearing on Monday, 17th April. The bill would establish a directory of e-cigarettes and alternative nicotine products sold in Texas, and require manufacturers of all such products to certify annually that they agree to comply with the bill’s provisions.
Australia: The South Australia state government has proposed extending the existing restrictions on smoking in outdoor public places, press reports. The use of heated tobacco would be banned, along with smoking, on beaches, at public swimming pools, and within 10 m of schools and 5 m of shopping centres.