Development of the meeting
Several background papers were presented. First, was a presentation on the scientific foundation for the WHO FCTC. The paper, Principles Guiding Development of Laboratory Testing Capacity, aimed to 1.) facilitate discussion of the scientific foundation for the WHO FCTC with respect to product design, ingredients and performance, 2.) identify issues and potential strategies for building the additional science that WHO and Member States will need to consider for implementation of the WHO FCTC, and 3.) provide the basis for the development of a SACTob Recommendation document that would include identification of core issues and recommended principles to enable the establishment of tobacco product testing for FCTC implementation. The primary goal of laboratory capacity should be to provide a science base for improving public health through tobacco product regulation in order to contribute to the improvement of public health.
Next, a background paper entitled Biomarkers of Exposure to Carcinogenic Tobacco/Smoke Constituents as well as Practical Applications for Regulatory Agencies/Governments was presented. Additionally, another background paper was presented on information about topography/use of pattern of smoking and characteristics of cigarette design that influence topography before defining testing recommendations. This presentation covered 1.) the relationship between exposure to smoke measured using standard machine-smoking protocols and real-life human smoking, 2.) select cigarette design characteristics that affect smoking topography, 3.) issues of smoking compensation, 4.) variations in smoking that are not related to cigarette design, and 5.) measuring smoking topography.
The study found that there is a large disparity between machine-smoking and human smoking as human exposure to cigarette smoke emissions depends on how the cigarette is smoked. Since machine-smoking is currently the best way to study human exposure, it is important to make machine-smoking mimic the characteristics of human smoking. This process will need to include tailoring machine-smoking protocols to cigarette design characteristics and using human testing of products to determine human-smoking patterns which can then inform machine-smoking. Without accounting for how cigarette design characteristics alter smoking behaviour, past mistakes will be repeated (e.g. “light” cigarettes). Another important recommendation of this study is that the variability in human smoking must not be used as a rationale for not having human smoking inform machine-smoking protocols.
Next, a background paper on facilitating testing of tobacco products in developing countries was presented. The participants noted the need for independent laboratories in developing countries, because independent verification is essential for an effective regulatory function and cannot depend exclusively on laboratories in developed countries.
This was followed by a presentation on the international cigarette study conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Conclusions from the study confirmed that a wide range of tobacco specific nitrosamines (TSNAs) exist internationally and that certain US blended cigarettes have higher TSNAs than most foreign cigarettes. Study results indicated that different brands of cigarettes contain differing amounts of carcinogenic TSNAs, indicating that it is possible for manufacturers to produce cigarettes with lower levels of these toxic substances. The study further stated that TSNAs are not the only carcinogens found in cigarette smoke; therefore, reducing their levels alone does not guarantee a less hazardous cigarette.
After the close of the presentations, the committee broke into working groups to discuss three topics: 1.) principles to guide the development of laboratory capacity for testing tobacco products; 2.) considerations for product testing in developing countries; and 3.) tobacco product testing beyond ISO – addressing cigarettes and other products.