Netherlands withdraws from international cigarette advice committee: report

The Netherlands is immediately withdrawing from an international committee that gives the tobacco industry advice on measuring nicotine, tar and carbon monoxide in their products, according to newspaper Trouw.

The national institute for public health RIVM and the Dutch food and consumer product safety authority NVWA believe that the tobacco industry has too much influence on the committee, and therefore decided to withdraw. According to the newspaper, eight of the 10 members in the Dutch committee come from the tobacco industry.

Due to the massive influence the tobacco industry has on the advice committee, governments have for years worked with misleading measuring methods in testing cigarettes, Trouw writes. As a result, consumers take in more nicotine and tar than is shown in the official measurements. 

The Dutch committee gives advice on the drafting of international standards regarding tobacco products, on behalf of the Netherlands. The committee forms part of the ISO - the international organization for standardization. The Netherlands' withdrawal from this committee will have international consequences, Reinskje Talhout, tobacco expert at the RIVM, said to Trouw. "In almost all EU countries the tobacco industry dominates these kinds of committees."

A group of Dutch hospitals, cancer patients and associations, addiction clinics and even some municipalities filed a lawsuit against the tobacco industry. They accused the industry of forgery, because smokers inhale more harmful substances than are shown in the official tests. The Public Prosecutor eventually dropped the case. "Smoking is deadly and the design of cigarettes does add to this, but the tobacco manufacturers have not acted in violation of either the law or the current regulatory framework", the Prosecutor said