U. S. Backing for Heated Tobacco Products Triggers Misrepresentation

By Wendell Balderas
BANGKOK, Thailand, Jun 14 2019 (IPS)

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) decision
authorizing the sale of Philip Morris International (PMI)’s
heated tobacco system, IQOS, in the United States inadvertently
puts a foot in the door to increase sales of new tobacco products
in the developing world.

In April this year, the FDA authorized the sale of IQOS heated
tobacco products in the US. However, it
clarified
that it has not approved IQOS as a ‘modified risk
tobacco product’ (MRTP). But PMI is riding on this ‘US-FDA
approved for sale’ of its IQOS as also safer alternative to
regular cigarettes to Asian governments.

In Indonesia, PMI’s local subsidiary PT HM Sampoerna
signed
a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Ministry of
Research, Technology and Higher Education (Kemenristek Dikti) to
support IQOS research and capacity building.

Local tobacco control advocates have criticised this
collaboration claiming this is an industry tactic to attract new
smokers, especially among the younger generation. Meanwhile PMI’s
plans to sell even more cigarettes in Indonesia remain on track
reflected by its ubiquitous cigarette advertisements.

While Malaysia’s Control of Tobacco Products Regulation
requires pictorial warning on all tobacco products, IQOs is being
sold as safer alternatives to regular cigarettes without these
warnings.

IQOS is marketed via social media and have escaped the arm of
regulators. BAT and JTI are now applying pressure on the government
to allow sales of their versions of heated tobacco products.

In the Philippines, PMI claims on one-hand that cigarettes are
harmful, smokers should quit and children should not buy them,
however in the same breath it continues to refute evidence about
smoking.

PMI’s lawyer, representing the Philippine Tobacco Institute
(PTI), has filed two court cases challenging Balanga City, Bataan
which has passed laws to ban smoking in public places and protect
its youth from being exposed to cigarette promotions.

Also, the tobacco industry is trying to sneak Heated Tobacco Products
(HTPs) into the bills being deliberated in the Philippine Senate
and House of Representatives to regulate e-cigarettes (Electronic
Nicotine Delivery Systems).

This deception is a typical duplicitous move by the tobacco
industry to weaken tobacco product regulation simultaneously
deceiving the public to embrace its HTPS as less harmful than
regular cigarettes.

In Vietnam, PMI’s President of South and Southeast Asia has

met
with the Vice Chairman of the National Assembly (NA)
promoting its research and development of less harmful product.

PMI’s request to the National Assembly leader was tactical –
that they should provide a legal framework to enable its new
products to be developed in Vietnam, and on its part, it will
provide its own scientific research as well as research from
organizations in the United States and Europe.

According to a press report, the Vice Chairman of the National
Assembly was ready to create favorable conditions for foreign
businesses to invest and expand their business. In investment
talks, the emerging evidence on the risks associated with these new
tobacco and nicotine products are somewhat lost and even
challenged.

Korea’s Ministry of Food and Drug Safety announced in June
last year that five cancer-causing substances were found in HTPs
including PMI’s IQOS, British American Tobacco’s (BAT) Glo and
Lil, with the level of tar detected in some of them far exceeding
that of conventional cigarettes.

PMI has filed
a lawsuit against the South Korean government to demand the
disclosure of detailed information on Seoul’s test results of
harmful substances found in electronic cigarettes.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that all forms of
tobacco, including heated tobacco products (HTPs), are harmful and
that there is
no evidence
to demonstrate that HTPs are less harmful than
conventional tobacco products.

A research
paper
from the University of California San Francisco also
concluded “despite delivering lower levels of some toxins than
conventional cigarettes, PMI’s own data fail to show consistently
lower risks of harm in humans using its heated tobacco product,
IQOS, than conventional cigarettes.”

In April 2019 a Swiss lab found a
highly toxic substance
, isocyanates, emitted from the filters
of IQOS. According to pulmonologist and former vice-president of
the Swiss Lung League, Rainer Kaelin, inhaling very small amounts
of this toxic substance can cause serious health damage.

Tobacco is inherently toxic and contains carcinogens and
toxicants even if not burned. HTPs such as IQOS are not harmless,
and the precautionary principle to protect consumer safety must be
applied to HTPs.

Around 40 countries already ban the sale of e-cigarettes and
emerging tobacco products such as HTPs. Among these are four ASEAN
countries: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Singapore and Thailand.

Others include Argentina, Australia, Brazil, East Timor, Kuwait,
Taiwan, UAE, and Uruguay. The FDA’s decision should not cause
these countries to roll back their ban. These countries have
implemented strict tobacco control measures based on the WHO
Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) and have seen their
smoking prevalence decline steadily.

Under the guise of ‘harm reduction’, new and emerging
tobacco products such as HTPs pose new
threats
to society. While continuing to increase sales of
cigarettes, transnational tobacco companies are aggressively
selling e-cigarettes and HTPs as part of their revamped
“smoke-free” image and ironic claims to be part of the solution
to the smoking epidemic.

Policy makers should be aware of these veiled attempts of
tobacco companies to influence governments to create exemptions for
their HTPs and roll back tobacco control policies so as to mislead
the public, renormalize tobacco use, increase social acceptability
for their products and get more people to be addicted to their
products.

The post
U. S. Backing for Heated Tobacco Products Triggers
Misrepresentation
appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Wendell Balderas is Media & Communications
Manager of the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA)

The post
U. S. Backing for Heated Tobacco Products Triggers
Misrepresentation
appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Source: FS – All – Ecology – News
U. S. Backing for Heated Tobacco Products Triggers Misrepresentation