- Hans Weber
- December 1, 2023
Ban on Flavored, Heated Tobacco Products in Czech Stores and Tobacco Shops Sparks Debate
In a month’s time, flavored, heated tobacco products will no longer be available in stores and tobacco shops in the Czech Republic. This ban, which has been in effect since October 23, is based on a proposal by the European Commission. The commission cited an increase in the sale of these products in some EU countries as a reason for banning flavored disposable electronic cigarettes.
However, this ban on flavored, heated tobacco products has sparked debates and raised concerns among various stakeholders. Some argue that flavored alternatives played a crucial role in motivating adult smokers to switch to less harmful options. Philip Morris ČR, the largest producer and seller of tobacco products in the Czech Republic, believes that the complete ban on flavors may hinder the transition of smokers to alternative products.
Not everyone is in favor of the ban. Jindřich Vobořil, the national anti-drug coordinator, supports harm reduction approaches and is concerned that the ban might push people back to traditional cigarettes. While the exact impact on the market is uncertain, Vobořil emphasizes the importance of accurate market data to assess potential consequences.
One of the concerns in the Czech Republic is the high number of young tobacco users, with approximately one-fifth of 13 to 15-year-old students using tobacco products. Alternative devices like IQOS by Philip Morris have been introduced to reduce the number of smokers and have gained popularity, with over 570,000 users estimated to have switched from traditional cigarettes. With the ban on flavored, heated tobacco products, consumers are left to choose between traditional tobacco flavors or flavored disposable electronic cigarettes.
Recent inspections conducted by regional hygiene authorities have focused on ensuring proper labeling of these products. Violations were identified, including inadequate labeling related to age restrictions and insufficient separation from other goods, resulting in sanctions totaling 125,000 Czech koruna.
It’s worth noting that, unlike some other European countries such as Germany, Belgium, and France, the Czech Republic does not plan to ban flavored electronic cigarettes. Ondřej Jakob, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Health, explains that while the ban on flavored, heated tobacco products is required by the European directive, the ban on flavored electronic cigarettes is left to the discretion of member states.
Critics of the ban argue that it lacks evidence to support its necessity. Jindřich Vobořil questions the lack of data supporting the ban and highlights that nicotine in purer form is significantly less risky than smoking traditional cigarettes. He cites Sweden as an example, where only 5% of the population smokes due to alternative approaches. In contrast, alternative products are banned in France, where the smoking rate is similar to that of the Czech Republic, exceeding 20%. Vobořil believes such measures may not be in the best interests of the public.
As the ban on flavored, heated tobacco products takes effect, its impact on public health and smoking habits will be closely monitored and subject to ongoing debate.
Article by Prague Forum