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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.
Spain: The Spanish Association of Establishments with Vending Machines (AEPVR) has sued the Commissioner for Tobacco Markets for an alleged campaign of harassment, press reports. Many bars that sell tobacco products via vending machines have been fined in recent months for not getting their supplies from one of the three nearest tobacconists, as the law requires. This has led a number of bars to withdraw the machines and stop selling tobacco. The AEPVR claims that since 2016 more than 50,000 tobacco vending machines have been withdrawn, removing “a natural barrier to smuggling”.
UK: Asked in Parliament about a possible “smoke-free fund” to be paid for by the tobacco industry to boost public health budgets, junior health minister Neil O’Brien said the government would be investing £35m this year in the National Health Service (NHS) to ensure that all smokers who are admitted to hospital are given NHS-funded tobacco treatment.
Czech Republic: National anti-drug coordinator Jindřich Vobořil has told reporters that an overdue action plan on addiction will be sent to the government by the end of March. The plan, which was to have been presented at the end of the last year, includes proposals for new taxation of addictive substances – reportedly including an excise tax for nicotine pouches – as well as bringing the tax on heated tobacco products closer to that on smoking tobacco.
Estonia: The Ministry of Social Affairs has drawn up a bill to amend the Tobacco Act, introducting a definition for heated tobacco, equating heated tobacco use with smoking, and establishing a flavour ban and mandatory health warning for heated tobacco in line with the EU’s Commission Delegated Directive 2022/2100. The bill has not yet been introduced in Parliament.
Italy: The Customs and Monopolies Agency (ADM) has told retailers to suspend the sale of nicotine pouches until the Ministry of Health has analysed the content and safety of those currently on the market, media reports. No official notice to that effect has been published on the ADM website.
US - general: Tobacco giant Altria has entered into an agreement to acquire e-cigarette manufacturer Njoy for approximately $2.75bn. The purchase will give Altria control over the Njoy Ace, currently the only pod-based vape product with market authorisation from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Paraguay: MP José Rodríguez said yesterday that his Partido Liberal Radical Auténtico (PLRA), the largest opposition party, will press for the excise duty on tobacco products, including heated and oral tobacco, to be raised to 24% of the wholesale price – the highest rate allowed by law, press reports. The government recently raised the duty from 20% to 22% of the wholesale price.
Czech Republic: An amendment to the Act on the Protection of Health from the Harmful Effects of Addictive Substances will come into force on 17th March. It will apply to nicotine pouches the restrictions that already cover sales and public place use of tobacco and e-cigarettes, including the ban on sales to minors. Retailers will be given three months to adapt to the new rules.
Italy: The Ministry of Health will present a bill to Parliament soon to eliminate smoking rooms in public places and extend the smoking ban to outdoor bars, restaurants, public transport stops, and public parks frequented by children and pregnant women, media reports. The bill would also equate vaping and heated tobacco use to smoking.
Luxembourg: Answering a parliamentary question on consumption figures and legal status of nicotine pouches, health minister Paulette Lenert today confirmed that neither national tobacco laws nor any other law applied directly to nicotine pouches, making them subject to general consumer laws. She said sales figures were not currently available, but that Luxembourg was in close contact with its neighbours and the European Commission to agree on action against nicotine pouches. “One option effectively consists in treating these products similarly to tobacco products,” Lenert said.
US - Alaska: Senate Bill 89 has been introduced, which would raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco, nicotine and vaping products from 19 to 21. It would also levy a tax on closed-system e-cigarettes at 25% of the wholesale price. Governor Mike Dunleavy vetoed a similar bill last year.
Philippines: The Department of Trade and Industry’s Consumer Protection Group has warned all e-commerce platforms to comply with vaping and heated tobacco regulation, or risk facing intensified monitoring and enforcement. It follows an increase in the number of online retailers found to be selling non-compliant products, such as products without the required health warnings or with flavour descriptors.
US - general: Altria has announced that it has exchanged its investment in Juul Labs for a non-exclusive global licence to certain of Juul’s heated tobacco intellectual property. Juul stated: “The return of Altria’s equity stake and termination of underlying agreements affords us full strategic freedom – we are no longer limited by the terms of those agreements to pursue other strategic opportunities and partnerships.” The e-cigarette manufacturer added that it would “continue to pursue future applications for new products to accelerate our mission and progress for the adult smoker, public health, and an end to combustible cigarettes”.
US - Hawaii: The House Committee on Finance has recommended that House Bill 551 be passed unamended. The bill would prohibit the sale of flavoured tobacco products and the mislabelling of e-liquids as nicotine-free.
Italy: The Customs and Monopolies Agency (ADM) has issued a circular with detailed instructions for monthly reporting of nicotine pouch excise stamps.
EU: Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) of 1.3.2023 amending Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/574 on technical standards for the establishment and operation of a traceability system for tobacco products was adopted yesterday. The purpose is to facilitate reporting of all involved in the trade in tobacco products and good practice in data management and analysis. The technical rules concern “the operation of the various components of the repositories system, the tasks of and the procedures to be followed by the ID issuers as well as the reporting activities of the economic operators and the technical tools available to the Member States in the context of their enforcement duties, in particular, all access interfaces including for mobile inspections”. Track and trace obligations, which currently apply to cigarettes and roll-your-own tobacco, will be extended to all tobacco products from 20th May 2024, and we believe will eventually apply to all other tobacco alternative products.