Vaping easing'historic momentfor public health'

Local | Mandy Zheng 14 Jul 2020

Governments worldwide should not ban alternative smoking products, or they will miss an "enormous" opportunity to phase out traditional cigarettes, tobacco giant Philip Morris warned.

This came as the US Food and Drug Administration gave the company authorization last week to market its four heat-not-burn tobacco devices as "modified risk tobacco products."

While the items are not currently available here, the SAR is mulling a ban on e-cigarettes and other alternative smoking products.

The four items are the IQOS System Holder and Charger, Marlboro Heatsticks, Marlboro Smooth Menthol Heatsticks and Marlboro Fresh Menthol Heatsticks.

With the FDA authorization, the firm can say in advertisements that these products "significantly reduce the production of harmful and potentially harmful chemicals" compared to conventional cigarettes, as they heat tobacco rather than burn it.

But the FDA said it will monitor the situation to ensure the items do not cause increased tobacco use among youngsters, adding that "these products are not safe."

Philip Morris International chief executive Andre Calantzopoulos called the authorization a "historical moment" for public health.

"For so many years, tobacco control policies have focused on restrictive measures in order to convince people to quit [smoking]," he said, adding that the new non-combustible smoking products should be seen as better alternatives to cigarettes

He urged authorities worldwide to "maximize adoption of these products by adult smokers," adding that if not, "we would be missing an enormous public health opportunity."

Meanwhile, a bill to ban e-cigarettes in Hong Kong will not be discussed until the next legislative year due to a lack of time.

If passed, the bill will prohibit the import, manufacture, sale, distribution and advertisement of e-cigarettes, heat-not-burn devices and herbal cigarettes.

An official government survey found some 20,300 residents were daily smokers of e-cigarettes or heated tobacco products last year.

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