WHO’s TobReg: Regulation for the Sake of Regulation?

A study by the joint International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and the World Health Organization’s (WHO) TobReg group seeks a new strategy to regulate cigarettes based on product performance measures with the goal of moving away from current measures involving the quantity of the smoke generated and the use of Tar, Nicotine and Carbon Monoxide values as measures of human exposure. Instead it recommends establishing median levels for 9 identified toxicants per mg nicotine in existing cigarettes and prohibiting the sale or import of cigarette brands that have yields above these levels (Tobacco Control April 1, 2008). But the authors acknowledge that no science exists to validate their choice of the 9 toxicants identified out of the 4,000 in cigarette smoke and that eliminating these 9 may increase the presence of others that may be more harmful. According to Prof. Michael Siegel of Boston University‘s School of Public Health a regulatory approach that acknowledges that it is unclear whether it will make cigarettes safer or more harmful, “is too baffling… to comprehend” and the only way to describe it is “insanity.” Siegel noted that there is no evidence that the approach would even lower actual exposure to the regulated constituents, and it might even raise the risks of smoking by increasing the levels of non-regulated toxicants. He writes that the tobacco control movement is now admitting to “making recommendations that are not based on any science.” “TobReg wants to regulate cigarettes merely for the sake of regulating cigarettes, not because that regulation will make cigarettes safer,” he writes. He concludes that if this scheme is implemented, it would mislead the public about the risks of cigarettes on the market and transfer the “fraud that the cigarette companies have been found guilty of committing (by marketing “light” cigarettes as being safer alternatives) over to the federal government,” (tobaccoanalysis.blogspot.com 4/3)


#1 Walter Raleigh on 04.09.08 at 12:17 AM

It is so critical that we get the true message out as the legislation as presently drafted is so far from being acceptable as it will only increase smoking consumption if nicotine is reduced. And it is a shame that it hurts the smaller companies and with the recent advances in harm reduction it will just all fall into Philip Morris’s advantage.

#2 tatler on 04.09.08 at 4:06 PM

These proposals from IARC and WHO are unhelpful as they only raise more questions.

Cigarette manufacturers are being discouraged from reduced exposure (PREP) product developments in part because of the unhelful positions of WHO, CDC and IARC. And the ultimate loser is the hapless smoker who perhaps could benifit from a future PREP – if one were allowed to exist.

WHO is essentially ignoring existing smokers rather than helping encourage PREP development.

You simply cannot produce a potentially safe cigarette in one development pass. Quite apart from the absence of scientific proof, it will not be acceptable to existing smokers – who will need some time to gradually migrate their tastes to new products.

#3 CIG GUY on 04.16.08 at 12:15 AM

As civilization advances man finds advances in science and technology. It is absolutely possible that science will make these advances. However, if the government does not allow this it would seem to me that it is so grossly wrong. Any new legislation on tobacco related to reduced harm should allow for the advance of science and technology. Just think one day in the past the wheel was a square. Now I know it is simplified but can you imagine that! Could one day in the future man look back and go what were they thinking when a new age of tobacco was allowed to produce a harmless tobacco product. I agree with Michael Siegel that more and more the anti message is along the tune of “because I said so” with little support. I think we need to get the word out. Allow folks to advance learning and develop new reduced harm products.

#4 John Rolfe on 05.01.08 at 2:53 PM

At the TMA conference in Williamsburg, Virginia from May 18-21, I understand that harm reduction is a key subject with demonstrations of some of the newer products along with discussion of FDA, WHO etc.

#5 TAZ on 05.03.08 at 12:40 PM

Cig Guy, I think your on target. An environment needs to created for advancement in the industry not a emotionally charged movement that may also have suspect support that stifles any advancement!

#6 CIG GUY on 05.31.08 at 11:04 AM

Any one know if there is any organization working on getting the message out and trying to get an open forum to advance the industry?

#7 John Rolfe on 05.31.08 at 1:53 PM

The only way to advance is for those in public health opposed to the demonization of tobacco producers and consumers by tobacco control to willingly stand up to the control radicals and to recognize that an awful lot of consumers are consuming nicotine in the most harmful ways possible when there are many other forms of nicotine consumption that are less harmful and that are more consumer satisfying than those offered by Glaxo and Pfizer. But tobacco control is sponsored by Big Pharma and they perpetuate the economic interests of Big Pharma.

#8 Patriot on 06.06.08 at 12:04 AM

Does anyone know if Big Pharma has any input as it relates to FDA regulation?

#9 John Rolfe on 06.06.08 at 7:48 AM

Good question. Based on the submissions I have seen to date, the principal input has been Jack Henningfeld’s presentation at the Waxman hearing: he and Mitch Zeller have Glaxo Smithkline as their principal client at Pinney Associates. I have seen nothing else that one might consider formal but this does not mean there is no behind-the-scenes lobbying. Based on how the Waxman legislation is currently written, however, one can only conclude that raising the bar on tobacco-specific THR products is in the interest of Big Pharma.

#10 CIG GUY on 06.10.08 at 9:34 PM

JR are you implying that big pharma is doing good them or are they actually fighting the development by others?

#11 RENEGADE on 07.21.08 at 9:44 PM

Hey cig guy big pharma is causing so many problems. Who you think is supporting (funding) the anti smoking movement? They have billions of dollars in revenue at stake in nicotine replacement therapy!

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