The European Union bans flavorings in heated tobacco

On November 3, 2022, the European Commission published directive 2022/2100 banning signature flavors for heated tobacco products and requiring health warnings comparable to those on other cigarettes.

The European Commission announced on June 29 that it wants to ban the sale of all flavored tobacco products as part of its goal of a tobacco-free generation in the European Union (EU) by 2040. We remind you that distinctive flavors have been banned since May 2016 for traditional cigarettes and tobacco to manual packaging in the European Union and from May 2020 for menthol products.

As for the heated tobacco refills found in France (IQOS), there are currently 7 flavors available. The descriptions of these flavors and their names are deliberately evasive and avoid traditional flavor categories by generally using colors with descriptions such as menthol, citrus, nuts, dried fruit, vanilla, cocoa and herbs.

The control period ended on 29 October 2022 and the delegated directive will enter into force on 23 November. Member States will have to transpose it into national law by 23 July 2023 at the latest and apply these provisions from 23 October 2023. Member States will also have to communicate to the Commission the text of the main provisions of national law which they adopt in the area covered by this Directive.

Rise of heated tobacco in Europe due to aggressive industry marketing

For the Smoke-Free Partnership (SFP)(1), a coalition of 50 European organizations striving for the effective implementation of the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), the implementation of the directive by member states represents an important step. while limiting the heavy marketing around these products and related consumption. For the SFP, one of the other main areas of implementation of the European plan to fight cancer should be the revision of the existing directive on tobacco products and the obligation of heated tobacco products to comply with all provisions applicable to other tobacco products.

The volume of retail sales of heated tobacco products corresponds to 3.3% of the total sales volume of all tobacco products at EU level in 2020, according to the Commission report. From 2018 to 2020, sales of heated tobacco in Europe grew from 924 million to 19.7 billion, an increase of over 2,000%, with significant increases in France (+406%), Portugal (180%) and the Netherlands (153%) according to this Commission report published in June. Philip Morris International (with its IQOS device) and British American Tobacco (with its Glo device) are the two main manufacturers of this type of product.

In France, Philip Morris is the only manufacturer that markets heating tobacco under the IQOS brand, which it aggressively and illegally promotes in tobacco shops. The manufacturer is promoting its device as a risk-reduction tool among policymakers and is trying to loosen regulations on these new tobacco products.

Opposition from some member countries

This ban provokes opposition from some Member States, notably Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece and Italy, which published a joint statement confirming that the introduction of the definition of heated tobacco products ” goes beyond the powers delegated under Directive 2014/40/EU and includes essential elements reserved for European legislators, and as such should be subject to a proper legislative process of scrutiny. »

The governments of these countries are subject to heavy interference by the tobacco industry, and especially by Philip Morris. It massively promotes its heating tobacco, which has become a widely consumed product in the countries of southern and eastern Europe(2). Similarly, in Italy, in November 2020, the Italian political news daily Il Riformista revealed that Casaleggio Associati, “the company entrusted with the responsibility of organizing the internal democracy of the M5S (5 Star Movement), received more than €2 million from Philip Morris for consultancy during from September 2017 to October 2020. This party then reduced taxes on heated tobacco products by 75%(3).

In Bulgaria, a recent report shows how the tobacco industry is using third-party groups to spread its messages to the public, prescribers and policy makers in the country. Several leading groups, funded by the local branch of Philip Morris, worked in favor of heating tobacco and reducing the taxation of these products(4). In Greece(5), Philip Morris took over several tourist sites that completely banned cigarettes in order to promote heated tobacco by offering this “alternative”, which the manufacturer judged to be less harmful, although an independent study does not confirm this claim. During the 2020 health crisis(6), PMI also donated some protective equipment and ventilators to hospitals, an act that was “welcomed” by the Greek Minister of Health.

Keywords: Flavors, heating tobacco, ban, European Commission, European Union, IQOS

©Tobacco Free Generation

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(1) SFP welcomes European Commission Delegated Directive banning flavors in heated tobacco products and imposing mandatory labeling requirements, Smoke-Free Partnership, published 7 November 2022, accessed 16 November 2022

(2) Tobacco Free Generation, Europe, Tobacco Industry Takes Advantage of Covid19 Pandemic, Published 15 October 2020, Accessed 16 November 2022

(3) Tobacco-free generation, Italy: tax relief for questions on heated tobacco products, published 4 December 2020, accessed 16 November 2022

(4) Tobacco-Free Generation, The role of leading tobacco industry groups in Bulgaria, published 2 June 2022, accessed 16 November 2022

(5) A tobacco-free generation, Philip Morris offensive in Greece, published on March 31, 2020, accessed on November 16, 2022

(6) A tobacco-free generation, As Philip Morris capitalizes on the COVID 19 pandemic, published on April 8, 2020, accessed on November 16, 2022

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