Cautious on heated tobacco

| February 16, 2017
caution photo

Photo by Tak H.

In answering a question posed by the Italian MEP, Giulia Moi, the European Commission has reaffirmed that it favors a cautious approach to heated tobacco devices.

In a preamble to two questions, Moi said that a major tobacco company had recently introduced a new product designed as a substitute for traditional cigarettes.

‘The device heats the tobacco, which then releases nicotine,’ she said.

‘Studies which point to a 90 percent reduction in the harmful effects of heated tobacco when compared to cigarettes were in fact commissioned by the very company that makes the product.’

Moi asked whether any independent European studies had been carried out to determine the risks and adverse effects of the use of heated tobacco.

And she asked whether the Commission should do more to raise awareness among European consumers of the ‘potential toxicological risks of using such a substance in this way’.

In its answer, the Commission said it was aware of the recent introduction in some member states of heat-not-burn tobacco products and was closely monitoring developments related to these products. A report on market developments concerning such novel products was due to be prepared in accordance with Article 28(2)(b) of the Tobacco Products Directive.

‘Moreover, in line with the current mandate of the Working Group on Articles 9 and 10 established under the World Health Organisation (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), in which the Commission is acting as a key facilitator, the WHO will specifically examine novel and emerging tobacco products such as “heat-not-burn” tobacco products,’ it said.

‘Given the lack of evidence relating to short-term and long-term health effects and use patterns of “heat-not-burn” products as also described in a recent report from the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), the Commission favours a cautious approach.

‘With regard to the sale, presentation and manufacturing of “heat-not-burn” products within the European Union, the relevant provisions of the Tobacco Products Directive apply and should be enforced.

‘The Commission has been actively supporting awareness-raising campaigns on the health risks of tobacco consumption and welcomes campaigns at national level tailor-made to the circumstances of each member state.’

The European Commission said that it was in favor of a cautious approach to heat-not-burn products also in a statement reported here on January 20.

On that occasion, the answer, largely the same as that made in reply to Moi, was given in relation to questions raised by the Belgian MEP, Frédérique Ries.

But there was some additional information given.

‘At the same time, the Commission would like to underline that with regard to the sale, presentation and manufacturing of these products within the European Union, the relevant provisions of the Tobacco Products Directive apply and should be enforced,’ the Commission said in part. ‘This includes the ban on misleading elements foreseen by Article 13 and notably any suggestions that a particular tobacco product is less harmful than others. The Commission oversees whether member states fully and correctly apply the provisions of the directive.’

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