Regulation: Heated Tobacco

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Slovenia: March 2024

The National Assembly unanimously voted in favor of government-sponsored changes to tobacco legislation banning flavorings in e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products in a bid to fight the increasing use of new tobacco products among youth while also transposing EU Directive 2014/40/EU (as regards to the withdrawal of certain exemptions of HTPs).

EU: March 2024

Reuters1 reports that EU States are mulling over the introduction of tougher rules to close the loopholes on zero-tobacco heat sticks (i.e. reconstituted rooibos leaf infused with nicotine and flavors), designed to circumvent the heated tobacco flavor ban as well as to demonstrate the innovative capacity of the tobacco companies to operate under stricter regulations. Recall: Heated Tobacco Product

The European Commission stated that they are currently evaluating the EU tobacco laws and any changes would be subject to public consultation and impact assessment. However, Reuters underlines that Latvia, Lithuania and Croatia are already looking to introduce stronger regulations to govern the products. For instance, in Latvia, a draft bill would classify the zero-tobacco sticks as tobacco substitutes and subject to related controls, as well as a ban on all flavours except for tobacco from 2025.

BAT launched veo (zero-tobacco heatsticks) in 11 European markets and plans global roll-out. According to Reuters, veo already accounts for 50% of BAT’s heated tobacco volume in Czechia and Romania, 30% in Germany and close to 20% in Greece.

EU Member States: January 2024

Bulgaria: The ban on flavored heated tobacco products (HTPs) comes into effect as of January 1, 2024.

Portugal: As of January 16, 2024, new rules come into effect – harmonizing the HTP regulation with traditional cigarette regulation in terms of health warnings and flavor restrictions.

Spain: The Spanish government approved a decree that levels the regulation of HTPs with that of traditional cigarettes: (1) prohibiting flavored HTPs, (2) requiring the placement of cigarette health warnings on the HTP packaging. The decree will enter into force three months after publication in the official gazette. Philip Morris International (PMI) claims that “the labeling (health warning) requirements apply exclusively to HTPs for smoking (with combustion)” and IQOS (with no combustion) is not subject to the new requirements (i.e. no need to adapt the labeling on the heatstick packs). Spanish Ministry of Health does not share PMI’s interpretation2.  

Slovakia: The EU-wide ban will come into force from January 2025.

Background: The Amendment to the EU Directive 2014/40/EU (as regards to the withdrawal of certain exemptions of HTPs) required the EU member states to transpose the prohibition into national law by July 23, 2023 and to apply the provisions from October 23, 2023. However, many member states delayed the implementation of the ban until 2024.

Taiwan: January 2024

Heated tobacco products are banned in Taiwan unless they are approved by the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MoHW) based a health risk assessment. Philip Morris International (PMI) is trying to obtain the MoHW approval to launch IQOS in Taiwan; during the Q3 2023 earnings release (October 2023), PMI announced that the market launch in Taiwan was further delayed.

In January 2024, Taiwanese MoHW released a statement3 about heated tobacco which significantly undermines the prospects of IQOS launch in Taiwan. The MoHW advised the public (especially, the youth) not to recommend, try or buy heated tobacco products and stated that

– heated tobacco is not less addictive than traditional cigarettes (referring to a nicotine pharmacokinetic study in which blood nicotine concentration of rats exposed to heated tobacco aerosol were higher than the ones exposed to traditional cigarette smoke)

 – available research data do not show that smokers who start using heated tobacco can successfully and fully stop smoking

–  heated tobacco aerosol contains nicotine, which can also cause harm to the body, especially to the brain development in youth (adversely effecting concentration, learning, emotion/impulse control) and embryo development in pregnant women

– heated tobacco aerosol contains toxic and carcinogenic substances such as formaldehyde, acetaldehyde and nitrosamines

– heated tobacco products have not been approved for marketing by the MoHW and are not allowed to be manufactured, imported, supplied, displayed, advertised, sold or used as per the Tobacco Hazard Control Law.

Argentina: December 2023

Argentinian media claims that PMI’s local affiliate, Massalin Particulares, is intensifying its lobbying activities4 to eliminate the minimum excise tax, lower cigarette taxes, lift the ban on heated tobacco products and establish a favorable tax regime for the heated tobacco category (as low as 20% of the cigarette tax) – at a time when the newly inaugurated government in Argentina is setting out a radical economic plan to fix the country’s worst crisis in decades.

PMI has 62% share in Argentina, a Top-15 market (by volume) for the company. PMI relies on the reversal of heated tobacco bans in key markets in order to deliver its 2026 and 2030 targets. Most recently, at the MS Global Consumer & Retail Conference, the PMI CFO stated that high-end of the 180-200Bn sticks target (heated tobacco volume) is reachable by 2026 if some key markets allow heated tobacco. Recall: Heated Tobacco Products

The EU: October 2023

The ban on flavored heated tobacco products (HTPs) comes into effect in the EU member states5. The EU Commission amended the Directive 2014/40/EU as regards to the withdrawal of certain exemptions of HTPs on June 29, 2022 (published on Nov 23, 2022) and required the EU member states to transpose the prohibition into national law by July 23, 2023 and to apply the provisions from Oct 23, 2023.

The prohibition comes in response to the significant increase in the HTP sales volume across the EU: more than 10% increase in sales volume in more than five Member States and more than 2.5% share in total sales of tobacco products at retail level in the EU (“substantial change of circumstances”). The EC states that the amendment is part of the Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan to create a “Tobacco-Free Generation” where less than 5% of the population uses tobacco by 2040, compared to around 25% today.

Ahead of the Oct 23, 2023 deadline, BAT stepped up the launch of flavored veo sticks for glo that contain no tobacco. Meanwhile, at the 2023 Investor Day, PMI introduced Levia: a tobacco-free IQOS consumable (with infused nicotine). For further details: Heated Tobacco Products.

Note: Despite the October 23, 2023 deadline set by the Amendment, many member states delayed the implementation of the flavored heated tobacco ban until 2024. The ban is currently in effect only in Czechia.

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.

Russia: April 2023

Russia aims to crack down on e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products6. A bill passed by the State Duma would regulate vapes and HTP like regular cigarettes. Approval in the upper chamber and sign-off by the president are the next steps.

Argentina: March 2023

The MoH prohibited the importation, distribution, commercialization and advertising of Heated Tobacco products due to their potential harm to health7. Argentina already has in place a complete ban on marketing & sale of e-cigarettes since 2011.

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.

Vietnam: November 2022

The Ministry of Health proposes ban on e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products8

The EU: July 2022

The European Commission proposes ban on flavored heated tobacco products after a big rise in their consumption9. The Commission estimates that HTP exceeds 2.5% of total sales of tobacco products in the EU.

Note: The EU-wide ban (on flavored heated tobacco) went into effect in November 2022. The state-level implementation is ongoing.

References:

  1. https://www.reuters.com/business/retail-consumer/european-regulators-close-big-tobaccos-new-tea-sticks-2024-03-28/ ↩︎
  2. Philip Morris says its heated tobacco (Iqos) is now compliant with government health labelling (elespanol.com) ↩︎
  3. “Don’t Recommend, Don’t Try, Don’t Buy” Heated Cigarettes – Ministry of Health and Welfare (mohw.gov.tw) ↩︎
  4. La multinacional tabacalera Massalin busca que el gobierno de Milei elimine los impuestos al cigarrillo | Un lobby incesante de la filial argentina de Philip Morris | Página|12 (pagina12.com.ar) ↩︎
  5. https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=uriserv%3AOJ.L_.2022.283.01.0004.01.ENG ↩︎
  6. https://www.rt.com/russia/574535-russia-electronic-cigarettes-ban ↩︎
  7. https://en.mercopress.com/2023/03/27/argentina-banned-the-sale-and-import-of-e-cigarettes ↩︎
  8. https://e.vnexpress.net/news/news/health-ministry-proposes-ban-on-vaping-heated-tobacco-products-4539725.html ↩︎
  9. https://reuters.com/world/europe/eu-proposes-ban-flavoured-heated-tobacco-products-2022-06-29 ↩︎

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