Regulation: Cigarettes

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Ireland: June 2024

Irish Government approves legislation to increase the minimum legal age of sale of tobacco products to 21. The Public Health (Tobacco) (Amendment) Bill 2024 will now be brought forward for enactment. The measure is being introduced in order to accelerate the decline in adult smoking prevalence, which has plateaued at 18% for several years.

Ireland will be the first country in the EU to raise the minimum age of sale of tobacco products to 21. Latvia has enacted law to raise the minimum age of sale to 20 in 2025. A lead-in time will be implemented so that those already entitled to be sold tobacco products, that is, persons over 18 but under 21, will not be affected.

The proposed legislation will not impact the minimum legal age of sale of nicotine inhaling products or vapes. Since December 2023, the sale of vapes to under 18s has been banned. There is currently no proposal to extend this ban to the age of 21.

WHO FCTC: Feburary 2024

After being postponed from November 2023 (because of unrest in the host country), the tenth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP10) to the WHO FCTC (Framework Convention on Tobacco Control) took place in Panama on Feburary 5-10, 20241.

COP10 adopted decisions

– to protect the environment and the health of all people from the cultivation, manufacture, consumption and waste disposal of tobacco products (language around Article 18 strengthened)

– to address cross-border tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship and the depiction of tobacco in entertainment media.

Other decisions adopted by COP10 were related to the promotion of human rights through the WHO FCTC as well as strengthening the WHO FCTC Investment Fund. In addition, two expert groups were established to work on forward-looking tobacco-control measures (Article 2.1) and means to hold the tobacco industry liable (Article 19).

Regulation of the new nicotine/tobacco products was expected to be under the spotlight during the event. However, (supposedly) under significant industry pressure, action on new tobacco products was delayed. Instead of a final agreement on e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products, the delegates agreed to create a working group to develop regulatory recommendations until COP11 (- effectively, postponing any decision by two years). At the COP, a number of countries, led by Guatemala and including the Philippines, China, Russia, Antigua & Barbuda, echoed industry talking points that frames heated tobacco products and vapes as less risky than cigarettes and called for more debate/research on the topic. 

WHO FCTC is signed by 183 parties (covering more than 90% of the world population) and entered into force in 2005. The biennial COP and Meeting of the Parties (MOP) act as governing bodies working on implementing the treaty.

France: November 2023

The French government reveals a set of new measures2 to create a tobacco-free generation by 2032:

– smoking in public places (including beaches, parks, woods and close to schools) will be banned

– taxes on tobacco will be increased to have a pack of 20 cigarettes cost more than €12 in 2025 and €13 in 2026

– single-use (disposable) vapes will be banned

The new anti-smoking legislative program will be tabled at the Parliament early next year. According to official figures. there are still almost 25,000 tobacco outlets in France with close to 31Bn cigarettes being sold every year (i.e. 32.5Bn in 2022 according to PMI with 6% decline in YTD2023). Around a quarter of adults (~12 Mn) smoke daily while some 3Mn vape regularly. France is also the largest market in Europe for illicit cigarette consumption (i.e. 16.9Bn in 2022 => one in every three cigarettes consumed in France are either contraband or counterfeit).

Australia: September 2023

Tougher laws to crack down on cigarettes and vaping to be presented in the parliament3

– E-cigarettes to be brought under Australia’s tobacco laws (subject to the same advertising restrictions)

– Graphic warnings on individual cigarettes

– Additives (like menthol) to be banned

– Pack/product sizes and filter designs to be standardized

– “Names that imply reduced harm” to be banned

– Health promotion inserts to be included in packs

If the legislation passes, changes will come into effect in April 2024.

Canada: August 2023

Becomes the first country to start printing warnings directly onto individual cigarettes4,5,6. By July 2024, all king-size cigarettes and by April 2025, all regular-size cigarettes & little cigars must include the warnings. The phrases will appear by the filter and include warnings about harming children, damaging organs and causing impotence & leukemia. A second set of six phrases will be printed in 2026. Canada aims to be a “smoke-free nation” (i.e. less than 5% of the adult population smoking) by 2035.

Ukraine: July 2023

Smoking legislation moves closer to the EU Standards. A law, adopted on July 11, 2023, prohibited the production & sale of flavored cigarettes (including heated tobacco) and vapes in Ukraine. Existing stocks need to be depleted in one year.

Mexico: January 2023

Brings into force one of the world’s strictest anti-tobacco laws by enacting a total ban on smoking in public places7. Mexico’s existing 2008 law is now extended to an outright ban in all public spaces – including parks, beaches, hotels, offices and restaurants. There will also be a total ban on the advertising, promotion and sponsorship of tobacco products, including in-store displays. E-cigarettes are also subject to new restrictions, particularly on the indoor use.

Taiwan: January 2023

Lawmakers approved the proposed amendments to the Tobacco Hazards Prevention Act

– banning e-cigarettes

– requiring heated tobacco products to comply with the law

– raising the legal age for buying cigarettes to 20.

Italy: January 2023

Italy announces new measures against cigarettes and novel tobacco/nicotine products. Indoor smoking rooms and smoking in open-air in the presence of minors and pregnant women will be banned. Indoor/outdoor smoking and advertising bans will be extended to cover e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products.


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