Regulating Tobacco Products

Philip Morris International (PMI) supports comprehensive regulation of tobacco products based on the principle of harm reduction.

To be effective, tobacco regulatory policy must be based on evidence that it will achieve its aim of improving public health. Regulations must be applied to all tobacco products and all tobacco manufacturers, and should take into account the views of all legitimate stakeholders including public health authorities, government finance authorities, tobacco manufacturers, retailers, tobacco growers, consumers and other members of the tobacco supply chain. Regulatory policy must consider the potential to trigger adverse consequences which undermine public health objectives, such as increasing the demand for illicit cigarettes, other tobacco products, and/or cheap cigarettes.

While we support effective evidence-based tobacco regulation, we do not support regulation that prevents adults from buying and using tobacco products or that imposes unnecessary impediments to the operation of the legitimate tobacco market. In that regard, we oppose measures such as standardized packaging (also known as plain or generic packaging, point of sale display bans, total bans on communications to adult consumers, bans on the use of all ingredients  in tobacco products, other measures designed to standardize tobacco products or packaging, and proposals that prevent the development, marketing and sale of products that are proven to reduce the health risks of tobacco use.

Such prohibitionist policies severely restrict, if not eliminate, the ability of tobacco companies to compete. The consequences, which are often overlooked or ignored to the detriment of public health, include increases in the illegal tobacco market—a market that does not comply with regulations, including minimum age laws, and funds organized crime. As explained External reference by John Whiting, Assistant Director of Criminal Investigations with Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs in the UK.

Tobacco smuggling is organised crime on a global scale with huge profits ploughed straight back into the criminal underworld, feeding activities like drug dealing, people smuggling, and fraud.

John Whiting

Assistant Director of Criminal Investigations with Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs in the UK

The focus of regulators, the public health community and legitimate tobacco companies should be on establishing regulatory frameworks based on the principle of harm reduction. They should include:

  • mandated health warnings on packs and in advertising;
  • limitations on tobacco advertising, including bans on television and radio ads;
  • public place smoking restrictions, including bans on smoking in places where people must go and places catering to minors;
  • minimum age laws;
  • product regulations, including ingredient and smoke emissions reporting requirements;
  • strict penalties for selling contraband or counterfeit cigarettes;
  • tobacco tax policies that are integrated with health policies; and
  • regulations governing products that have potential to reduce risk.

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