Tobacco Free Initiative (TFI)

Third Meeting on 4-6 July 2001 in Penang, Malaysia

The third meeting of SACTob was held on 4 – 6 July 2001 in Penang, Malaysia and opened with a round of introductions followed shortly by updates on the status of the Mission Statement, the country regulations summary, and the glossary of definitions. A summary and discussion of the U.S. Institute of Medicine (IOM) report on Tobacco Harm Reduction constituted a main focus for the first half of the meeting. While some findings in the report were considered US-specific, many aspects of the report, such as the principle that there should be disclosure of ingredients and their safe/toxicity data prior to marketing, were considered to be of global applicability. It was also agreed that there must be an effective regulatory oversight of harm reduction products and their marketing. One member presented on a study of several cigarette brands that distribute the same brand line to different countries. These same brand lines, marketed in different countries, reported different levels of toxins and ingredients. It was noted that even without additional data, it would be rational regulatory policy to require deliveries of toxins to not exceed levels that the companies themselves have demonstrated are possible to attain in commercially viable products.

The second half of the agenda consisted mainly of discussing the pros and cons of cigarette package labelling with ingredient and yield information and an update on the EU directive concerning the implications of the use of terms like ‘light’ and ‘mild’. Regarding labelling, it was observed that much could be learned from food labelling approaches, however there are also important differences that must be considered. Although there was general agreement that providing consumers with additional information about cigarette toxin exposures was important, there was less consensus about what information should be presented and how. A summary was presented about the EU directive that had been formally adopted. Three main provisions were of particular interest to SACTob:

  • labels in the EU will have large health warnings with the possibility of graphic, Canadian-style warnings;
  • manufacturers will be required to list ingredients; and
  • according to Article 7, December 2003, no labelling which implies that some products are less toxic than others, i.e. the use of terms such as ‘light’ and ‘mild’ will be allowed. At the closure of the third meeting, concluding statements were made and the agenda for the fourth SACTob meeting was discussed.