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.
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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.
Slovenia: The Ministry of Health has put forward a bill that would include nicotine pouches within the category of “related products” in the Tobacco Law, making them subject to age, sales and advertising restrictions and notification requirements. The bill also seeks to transpose Commission Delegated Directive (EU) 2022/2100 setting out the EU-wide heated tobacco flavour ban. And it would classify heated tobacco products as smoking products, making them subject to the health warning requirements set out in the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD).
Latvia: A bill to ban flavours in heated tobacco products and nicotine pouches, and prohibit their sale to under-20s, has been approved at its second reading by the Social Affairs Committee. It has now to be approved at two more readings by the Saeima (parliament). Proposed amendments may be submitted until 2nd May before the bill’s next Saeima reading.
Lithuania: The Supreme Administrative Court yesterday upheld a lower court’s decision to approve a fine imposed by the Department of Drug, Tobacco and Alcohol Control on Philip Morris Baltic for hidden advertising of Iqos, media reports. The court said the company had secretly distributed information on tobacco products in order to promote sales of its heated tobacco system, misleading consumers by giving the impression that a non-tobacco product was being advertised.
Russia: From today, 1st March, the tax on heated tobacco consumables will rise to RUB8,669 (€108) per kg. The rate will rise next year to RUB9,016 (€112) per kg, and in 2025 to RUB9,377 (€117) per kg.
Iceland: Most of the labelling requirements laid down in Regulation 991/2022 on the packaging of nicotine products, e-cigarettes and refills containing nicotine apply from today to nicotine pouches, under an amendment issued in November 2022. New restrictions include a requirement for tobacco-free pouches to carry a health warning, a list of ingredients in descending order by weight, and an information booklet containing certain warnings, contraindications and usage and storage instructions.
Bulgaria: From tomorrow, 1st March, the tax on heated tobacco will rise to BGN282 (€144.50) per kg. The rate is due to go up again to BGN331 (€169.60) per kg in 2024, BGN380 (€194.70) in 2025 and BGN400 (€205) in 2026.
Norway: A spokesperson on health policy for the coalition Centre Party has told media the government is considering the introduction of more smoke-free places, a ban on flavoured snus – and banning tobacco entirely for future generations. A public health report by the Ministry of Health is expected to be published next month.
France: From tomorrow, 1st March, heated tobacco sticks will be taxed at €19.30 per 1,000 plus an ad valorem rate of 51.4%. Other forms of heated tobacco products will be taxed at €72.20 per kg plus 51.4% ad valorem.
UK: According to figures published by the government today, provisional 2022 tax revenue from a range of tobacco products including heated tobacco is estimated at £136m.
US - Minnesota: A US appeals court has upheld a ban on flavoured tobacco products imposed by the city of Edina. The US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit ruled against the challenge filed by RJ Reynolds to an earlier ruling by a Minnesota district court that the local flavour ban did constitute a product standard but was not preempted due to the “saving clause” of the federal Tobacco Control Act (TCA). The court of appeal ruled that the TCA does not expressly or implicitly preempt a city’s prohibition on selling flavoured tobacco.
US - California: The US Supreme Court has declined to hear a petition from RJ Reynolds Vapor and two other companies seeking to overturn Los Angeles County’s ban on flavoured tobacco products. Reynolds sued over the ban shortly after it took effect in 2020, arguing that only the federal government has the legal authority to regulate tobacco products.
South Korea: The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KCDC) last week published a report on the use of flavoured e-cigarettes, in which it called for tighter regulation of flavoured tobacco products.
Croatia: The Croatian Institute of Public Health organised a roundtable to mark national non-smoking day, at which health experts discussed the harms of tobacco. While it was concluded that smoking cessation is the best option for the prevention of serious illness, harm reduction was not discussed.
South Africa: The National Treasury, in its 2023 Budget Review, proposed a 4.9% increase in excise duty on heated tobacco sticks from ZAR14.87 ($0.81) to ZAR15.60 ($0.85) per pack of 20. The treasury said a tobacco review paper would be published later this year, following consultations on excise policies.
Taiwan: Customs officers at Taipei airport seized 1,138 packs of heated tobacco consumables on Sunday from passengers flying in to Taiwan, media reports. Heated tobacco, while recently regulated, is not allowed to be imported or sold without pre-market approval.
US - Hawaii: The Senate Committee on Commerce and Consumer Protection has recommended that Senate Bill 1447 be passed with amendments. The bill would leave counties the right to regulate the sale of tobacco and e-cigarette products, as long as ordinances are not in direct conflict with state law or less stringent.
Vietnam: The Ministry of Finance is proposing an amendment to the Law on Special Consumption Tax to tax e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products. It notes in its draft explanatory note that the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends applying the same tax policy as for regular cigarettes, which are taxed in Vietnam at 75%. The draft is open for consultation and no deadline has been set. Heated tobacco is banned in Vietnam, while e-cigarettes are currently unregulated.
Philippines: The Department of Health and Industry announced today that it was stepping up enforcement of regulations governing vaping, heated tobacco and other novel tobacco products. The department has issued violation notices to establishments selling non-compliant products with illegal markings or characters such as cartoons and youth influencers, and names suggesting flavours. Press reports that the agency confiscated over PHP860,000 ($15,600) worth of e-cigarettes and novel tobacco products.