Tobacco Free Initiative (TFI)

The first TobReg meeting in Montebello, Canada on 26-28 October 2004

Participants at the First TobReg Meeting in Montebello, Canada on 26-28 October 2004

At the first meeting of theWHO Study Group on Tobacco Product Regulation (TobReg) in Montebello, Canada on 26-28 October 2004, TobReg approved and adopted the Guiding Principles for the Development of Tobacco Product Research and Testing Capacity and Proposed Protocols for the Initiation of Tobacco Product Testing, thereby making this document the Study Group's first recommendation. A summary of this recommendation, including its significance for public health policies, and implications for the Organization's programs, was presented to the 115th session of the WHO Executive Board January 2005.

At the conclusion of the meeting, the Study Group issued three scientific notes/guidelines, namely: a note on potential uses of biomarkers, such as, surveillance of exposure in populations, pre-market assessment of novel products, research and assessment of risks; a note on development of a plan for implementing global and regional laboratory capacity for tobacco product testing and research; and, a note on the development of WHO Tobacco Testing Standards, which includes a regulatory strategy setting upper limits for select particulate and vapor phase smoke constituents, with the goal of attaining significant reductions in human exposure to the toxicant emitted by a particular brand as demonstrated by the above testing standards.

In furtherance of the note regarding the establishment of capacity to test and research tobacco products, TFI, the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, The Netherlands (RIVM) and the European Network of Government Laboratories on Tobacco and Tobacco Products (ENGL) are co-hosting the first meeting of the International Network on Tobacco Testing and Research for Regulation (INTTARR), in The Hague, on 28 & 29 April 2005. The expected output of the meeting is the establishment of a global laboratory network in order to establish capacity for tobacco product testing and research in order to provide a science base for improving public health through tobacco product regulation.

During the Montebello meeting, there was an opportunity for open discussion between the Study Group members and representatives of the International Standardization Organization (ISO) Central Secretariat and the Secretariat of the ISO Technical Committee on Tobacco and Tobacco Products (TC 126). TobReg expressed its view that the current ISO standard for machine measurement of cigarette emissions is not a valid means of comparing different brands of cigarettes relative to their emissions, human exposures that result from their use, or for purposes of regulation. Measurements made using the current standard are misleading for consumers and regulators, and they have been used by tobacco companies to misrepresent light and low tar cigarettes as reduced risk products. The harm that results from the continued use of the ISO machine measurement standards led TobReg to request that ISO modify the ISO machine standard for measuring cigarette emissions.

In turn, TFI and TobReg were invited to present the above views during the TC 126's annual meeting in Geneva on 22 & 23 November 2004. At the conclusion of the meeting, TC 126 issued a resolution convening a working group mandated to modify the current ISO smoking machine standard. TobReg's Chair, Dr Erik Dybing, as the nominated working group Convenor, has called for the first meeting which will take place in Geneva, Switzerland on 1 April 2005. The draft modified standard from this working group will be submitted to the TC 126 meeting in April 2006 for its review and approval.

The 2nd TobReg meeting will be on 7 to 9 June 2005 in Rio, Brazil and will be jointly co-hosted by Brazil's National Agency for Sanitary Surveillance (ANVISA) and National Cancer Institute (INCA). Provisional agenda items, inter alia, are: a scientific review of flavored tobacco products and water pipes and discussion on setting upper limits for tobacco smoke carcinogens. As a WHO Study Group, the future work of TobReg will be published as a Technical Series Report (TSR). The main topic in TobReg's TSR pipeline, which will be deliberated in depth during the second meeting, is a recommendation regarding a comprehensive, strategic regulatory plan for the use of long term biomarker(s) of tobacco smoke exposure.

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