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RIVM advises brake on the sale of taste accessories for cigarettes: 'Current taste ban is being circ

The sale and promotion of cigarette flavor sprays and filters should be drastically restricted. After the ban on menthol cigarettes, smokers often opt for accessories that make inhaling easier. RIVM wants to put a brake on those products.

After the ban on flavored tobacco, tobacco accessories have been on the rise since spring 2020. For example, a menthol flavor can be added to tobacco with flavor sprays, drops, attachments and flavor tags.

In this way, manufacturers circumvent the ban on flavor additives to the tobacco itself, the RIVM says. “If you still add a flavor to the cigarette with a cover, a spray, liquid or balls, you work around the taste ban,” says RIVM top tobacco expert Reinskje Talhout, who led the research. RIVM argues for restrictions on advertising and sales in a new advice to the Ministry of Health this afternoon.

Flavors prohibited

Flavored tobacco is prohibited by law to discourage smoking among young people. Vanilla and menthol flavors are popular among novice smokers: the additions make inhalation easier. Since the ban, many products have come on the market that still add a taste to the cigarette.

Rob Engelaar

It is estimated that hundreds of thousands of smokers now use such a flavor accessory. Four percent of smokers also use substances that claim to make the cigarette less harmful, for example with special filters. RIVM advises putting a brake on those products and for the best e cigarettes online. The filters, sprays and tickets should now only be available in tobacconists and online smoke shops.

Health claims

Health claims should also be removed from advertisements. “Manufacturers of such a filter, for example, claim that half of the tar and nicotine is filtered, but it is not said that the cigarette is also half as harmful as a result,” says Talhout. “You can’t prove that relationship like that, while smokers think they are doing well.”

The tobacco accessories are now not prohibited by law because they do not fall under the Tobacco and Smoking Products Act or the European Tobacco Products Directive. There are possibilities to ban the cards and sprays, as has already happened in Belgium and Denmark. “So that’s an option,” says Talhout. “In our research, we describe all legal options for this.”

Legal prohibition on accessories

The previous cabinet was already thinking about a legal ban on the accessories. This RIVM study will be an important building block on the way to that ban. According to a spokesperson for State Secretary Maarten van Ooijen (Prevention, ChristenUnie), the cabinet will present a new package with plans for ‘tobacco discouragement’ before the summer.

Flavor additives are also prohibited for e-cigarettes: the liquids used as filling in electronic cigarettes may only contain tobacco flavor from 1 January 2023.