Philip Morris SA has urged the South African government to create an exemption in its new tobacco bill that would enable the company to provide consumers with information about its heated tobacco device, IQOS, according to a story in The Business Day.
The Control of Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Bill, gazetted for public comment on May 9, contains provisions that prohibit all tobacco product advertising.
If enacted in its current form, it would prevent PM from providing consumers with information about IQOS, said Neetesh Ramjee, head of corporate affairs for reduced-risk products.
“The current legislation allows the minister to exempt certain products,” said Ramjee. “It would make sense to insert this clause into the new bill. If we don’t have this mechanism, people will stay on cigarettes.”
Current tobacco legislation permits PM to provide smokers with information about IQOS: for example, in leaflets attached to cigarette packs, but under the new bill, this would be prohibited.
“We are trying to provide alternatives that will meet people’s needs.”
The new bill paves the way for stringent tobacco laws that would for the first time bring electronic cigarettes into the regulatory fold. E-cigarettes are unregulated because they don’t contain tobacco.
Philip Morris said it was seeking legislation that drew a distinction between conventional tobacco products, such as cigarettes, and those that posed less of a risk to consumers.
The World Health Organization, which has welcomed the bill, said the emissions from heated tobacco products and e-cigarettes contained toxins, metals, nicotine and other harmful and potentially harmful substances.
‘Evidence to date suggests that [they] generally contain lower levels of toxic substances found in cigarette smoke, but there is insufficient independent scientific evidence to conclude that they are less harmful than conventional tobacco products, the WHO said in a statement.