Smoke-free cigarettes to face same rules as normal cigarettes in Netherlands

The Dutch government plans to hold so-called smoke-free cigarettes to the same rules that apply to ordinary tobacco products. State Secretary Paul Blokhuis of Public Health is implementing an age limit and a ban on advertising on these products, NU.nl reports. 

"Around this type of product is often the image that they are a smart alternative to ordinary smoking", Blokhuis said. According to him, that idea is misplaced, "because you can become mortally ill of it."

Smoke-free cigarettes like the iQOS by manufacturer Philip Morris heat tobacco up instead of burning it. Such devices started selling in the Netherlands last year.

The State Secretary referred to a study by the Dutch institute for public health and environment RIVM, which stated that it is not yet possible to say exactly what the harmful consequences of using smoke-free cigarettes are. "Many tobacco-related diseases only emerge after a longer period of time", the RIVM said. "It is clear however, that emissions from the tobacco sticks that are heated with the iQOS include nicotine, carcinogenic substances and other substances."

The RIVM also said that the devices are "probably less harmful" than regular cigarettes. 

According to Philip Morris, the conclusion that smoke-free cigarettes are likely less harmful is "underexposed". A spokesperson also called Blokhuis's proposals a "missed opportunity", according to the newspaper. "You protect the traditional tobacco products by putting everything under the same umbrella", he said. "Quitting smoking or never starting is of course the best option", he added. "But we would like to see the government keep an eye open for smokeless alternatives. They are not entirely risk free, but potentially a lot less harmful to health."

 

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