Vague guidelines on tobacco ingredients offer no guidance for governments | Cigarettes Blog

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Vague guidelines on tobacco ingredients offer no guidance for governments

Vague and partial guidelines [1] on tobacco product regulation, including on the use of  ingredients, were adopted last week by governments gathered in Uruguay for the World Health Organisation’s tobacco control conference – despite the fact they offer little guidance on implementation of these recommendations. 

Delegates at the week long event, known as the Conference of the Parties, were asked to consider far-reaching recommendations similar to legislation recently passed in Canada which bans the use of almost all ingredients in cigarettes – despite the fact there is no scientific evidence which supports the theory that cigarettes with ingredients are any more addictive or attractive than cigarettes without ingredients. [2,3]
Despite objections from many tobacco growing countries across the world [4], and a highly-charged debate culminating in a ten hour committee meeting, it was decided that the unfinished guidelines on this complex subject be accepted – regardless of the lack of clarification on key aspects and the absence of sound scientific evidence to support them. 

Commenting on the decision Michael Prideaux, Director of Corporate Affairs at British American Tobacco said: 
“In the rush to force these guidelines through, regardless of whether or not they were finished, governments have been left with a confusing and unhelpful document which offers them no direction on what to do next.
“Not only this, but the partial guidelines they’ve approved are lacking in any scientific evidence to support that they will have the intended impact on public health.

“This isn’t about the tobacco industry trying to fight every regulatory measure proposed, it’s about making sure decisions are made based on facts.
“Ingredients are used for a whole range of reasons including to replace natural sugars lost in the tobacco curing process or to help prevent the product from deteriorating. In short, our cigarettes still taste like cigarettes and not like sweets or candy.
“It’s a shame governments haven’t taken the time to further investigate the science behind these complex proposals and the impact a reduction in demand for certain types of tobacco will have on the livelihoods of many tobacco farmers worldwide.

“However, we are encouraged by the newly included text in the partial guidelines that governments ‘should consider scientific evidence, other evidence and experience of other countries when determining new measures on ingredients of tobacco products’[5] and we urge governments to do just that.”
"It is also interesting to note that a report by the European Commission’s Scientific Committee on  Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) published last week also underlines the lack of scientific evidence to support such measures acknowledging that “bearing in mind the broad meaning of ‘attractiveness’, the report does not provide clear evidence that a specific additive affects the attractiveness of tobacco products intended for smoking."[6]

The partial guidelines now also make clear in their text that they are not mandatory or legally binding explaining that governments should only make decisions on potential measures in this area in accordance with their national laws and taking into account their national circumstances and priorities.  
It is likely the collection of governments from across the world, who objected so strongly to the lack of consideration given to the effect these proposals will have on their tobacco growing countries, will continue to make their views heard.

Michael Prideaux added: “We always urge governments to be sensible when looking at these measures back in their own countries.
“But in this case, there is nothing for them to be sensible with as no real guidance or detail is given on how governments should go forward from here.
“With the approved guidelines severely lacking in content it is essential that governments take time to study the facts and the science whilst also ensuring those most affected by these proposals, such as the tobacco growers, are properly consulted.”


  1. Partial Guidelines for implementation of Articles 9 and 10 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco
    Control (Regulation of the contents of tobacco products and of tobacco product disclosures) (Draft)
    FCTC/COP/4/28, 20 November 2010
  2. Sanmartin C. Ng E. Blackwell D. Gentleman J. Martinez M.  Simile C.  Joint Canadian/United States Survey of Health 2002-03 CDC. Catalog no. 82 M0022XIE.2004. 
  3. Currie C. et al Health Behaviour in School Aged Children HBSC Study 2005/2006 
  4. The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA); the African, Caribbean and Pacific States
    (ACP); the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM); and the African Union
  5. Partial Guidelines for implementation of Articles 9 and 10 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco
    Control (Regulation of the contents of tobacco products and of tobacco product disclosures) (Draft) FCTC/COP/4/28, 20 November, 2010  
  6. SCENIHR (Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks), Addictiveness and
    Attractiveness of Tobacco Additives, November 2010, p. 91.

0 comments:

Post a Comment