World No Tobacco Day 2019 is a good day to ban e-cigarettes and HTPs

Bangkok, 29 May 2019: As the world focuses on ‘tobacco and lung health’ for this year’s World No Tobacco Day on 31 May, the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) highlights the tobacco industry’s new products such as e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products (HTPs) that contain chemicals similar to those in conventional cigarettes and likewise harm lung health and pose new threats to society.

“While continuing to increase sales of cigarettes and oppose evidence-based tobacco control measures, such as tobacco taxation, transnational tobacco companies are aggressively promoting e-cigarettes and HTPs as part of their revamped “smoke-free” image and deceptive claim to be part of the solution; however, these new and emerging tobacco products pose new threats to human and environmental health,” said Dr. Ulysses Dorotheo, Executive Director of SEATCA. 

“The epidemic caused by the tobacco industry is preventable, yet tobacco use remains high in a great majority of countries, which now are being confronted by these new and emerging products that threaten to renormalize smoking and undo the tobacco control progress to date. Business-as-usual is clearly not an option anymore. Governments should ban the sale of e-cigarettes and HTPs and accelerate their efforts to fulfill their obligations under the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), such as imposing high taxes to make tobacco products continually less affordable, banning all tobacco advertising and promotions including at point-of-sale and cross-border advertising, introducing standardized tobacco packaging with large pictorial health warnings, and enforcing laws requiring 100% smoke-free public places,” added Dorotheo.

Around 40 countries already ban the sale of e-cigarettes and emerging tobacco products such as HTPs. Among these are four ASEAN countries: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Singapore and Thailand. Others include Argentina, Australia, Brazil, East Timor, Kuwait, Taiwan, UAE, and Uruguay.

Earlier this month, SEATCA cautioned the public on the announcement of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorizing the sale of IQOS heated tobacco system in the United States. In its decision, the U.S. FDA clarified, however, that it has not approved IQOS as a ‘modified risk tobacco product’ (MRTP). This means that it is not less harmful than cigarettes, and hence the manufacturer of the product, Philip Morris International (PMI), and harm reduction proponents cannot claim that IQOS poses reduced risks or is less harmful than regular cigarettes.

“Regulators in the ASEAN region should not bow to pressure from PMI to allow the sale of this product on the basis that the FDA has allowed its sale in the US. HTPs such as IQOS are not harmless, and the precautionary principle to protect consumer safety must be applied to HTPs,” remarked Dorotheo.

Tobacco use remains one of the world’s leading causes of preventable premature death. In the ASEAN region where half of all adult men smoke and where 10 percent (125 million) of the world’s smokers live, tobacco use kills about 500,000 people annually. Worldwide, tobacco use kills more than 8 million people annually.  


Wendell C Balderas, Media and Communications Manager – SEATCA
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SEATCA is a multi-sectoral non-governmental alliance promoting health and saving lives by assisting ASEAN countries to accelerate and effectively implement the evidence-based tobacco control measures contained in the WHO FCTC. Acknowledged by governments, academic institutions, and civil society for its advancement of tobacco control movements in Southeast Asia, the WHO bestowed on SEATCA the World No Tobacco Day Award in 2004 and the WHO Director-General’s Special Recognition Award in 2014.