Approximately 170 countries were willing to adopt legal measures last Friday in order to regulate flavored tobacco products, citing concerns that the youth is lured by flavorings in tobacco and become addicted to smoking.
During the conference organized by the World Health Organization (WHO) for the countries that ratified WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control that took place in a resort in Uruguay, known as the 4th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the WHO tobacco convention, the participants decided to draw up guidelines on the ingredients of cigarettes and other tobacco products.
The parties as well planned to make a protocol on illegal tobacco trade. In addition, they discussed the issues of tobacco pricing and taxes, as well as the so-called electronic cigarettes.
The electronic cigarettes are battery-operated devices that look like cigarettes, but don’t contain tobacco, delivering pure liquid nicotine to the user, while emitting vapor, which resembles cigarette smoke. Electronic cigarettes are selling in many countries these days, and are promoted as a quit-smoking device in several countries.
“Tobacco products contain hundreds of harmful chemicals used to make smoking more attractive, mainly focused on the young people,” stated Antoon Opperhuizen, vice chairman of the World Health Organization Tobacco Laboratory Network.
Rob Cunningham from the Canadian Cancer Society admitted that the tobacco companies are introducing more and more flavored cigarette brands to the international tobacco market, including chocolate, cherry and apple-flavored cigarettes to attract adolescents to smoking.
Representatives of the tobacco companies, which are strongly against restrictions on flavored tobacco stating they would harm the industry and small business, set up a tent near the hotel where the WHO conference was held to declare their opinion on the issue.
Tobacconists state flavored tobacco accounts for half of worldwide consumption and say they grow and use three kinds of tobacco leaves: Burley, Virginia and Oriental. Therefore, they are concerned that the restrictions would cause prohibitions of some of the best-selling brands.
“If they ban manufacture of the American blend, which is produced from a mix of Virginia, Burley and Oriental tobacco, it would affect nearly six million growers and manufacturers across the world,” declared Antonio Abrunhosa, a tobacco-farmer from Portugal who is also executive director of the International Tobacco Growers’ Association (ITGA).
Several articles of the framework convention promote introduction of guidelines to control ingredients of tobacco products and to require tobacco producers to disclose information regarding the ingredients and emissions of tobacco products.
The measures would “virtually put an end to production of Burley and Oriental sorts of tobacco, which would be a discrimination that would not resolve the public health issuers since smokers would simply opt for other tobacco products,” stated ITGA vice-president Jorge Nestor.
Uruguay, which hosted the conference, is facing a legal action from the world’s largest private tobacco company Philip Morris International for the country’s anti-smoking regulations. But the participants of the conference, several international health organizations and even New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg supported Uruguay in the legal fight with PMI.