Historic FDA Ruling Should Prompt Canadian Governments to Review Tobacco Regulation: RBH

JULY 9, 2020

Historic FDA Ruling Should Prompt Canadian Governments to Review Tobacco Regulation: RBH

Governments across Canada should consider new risk-based approaches to regulate and tax innovative tobacco products differently than cigarettes to help the country’s 4.5-million smokers quit entirely or switch to better alternatives to cigarettes, Rothmans, Benson & Hedges Inc. said today.

Risk-based regulation, when coupled with technological innovation and scientific substantiation, can be a formula for a public health breakthrough in both reducing the prevalence of smoking in society and converting those who would otherwise continue to smoke to scientifically substantiated better alternatives, RBH said.

RBH calls for action after a historic decision this week by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the marketing of IQOS as a Modified Risk Tobacco Product (MRTP) in the United States. In doing so, the agency found that an IQOS exposure modification order is appropriate to promote the public health.

IQOS is available for sale in Canada, produced by RBH’s parent company Philip Morris International Inc., as part of a portfolio of innovations intended to reduce both the exposure and potentially the harm from smoking cigarettes.

The FDA authorized the marketing of IQOS with the following information:
“Available evidence to date:

  •     The IQOS System heats tobacco but does not burn it.
  •     This significantly reduces the production of harmful and potentially harmful chemicals.
  •     Scientific studies have shown that switching completely from conventional cigarettes to the IQOS system reduces your body’s exposure to harmful or potentially harmful chemicals.”

The FDA concluded that the available scientific evidence demonstrates that IQOS is expected to benefit the health of the population as a whole, taking into account both users of tobacco products and persons who do not currently use tobacco products.

The FDA’s decision provides an important example of how governments, industry and health stakeholders can incorporate a harm-reduction mindset to regulate smoke-free alternatives to differentiate them from cigarettes in order to protect and promote the public health.

Quotes from Peter Luongo, managing director of RBH:

            This historic ruling illustrates how the combination of technological innovation, scientific substantiation, and a harm-reduction approach to public policy can be brought together in the regulation of smoke-free alternatives to differentiate them from cigarettes, while both protecting and promoting the public health in Canada.

            We believe a risk-based approach can further accelerate the transition of existing adult smokers away from cigarettes – by quitting entirely or for those who would otherwise continue to smoke, by switching to scientifically substantiated alternatives to cigarettes.

            Smoke-free innovations are fundamentally different products than combustible cigarettes and should be regulated differently, as the FDA recognized.

            Regulation in Canada has not kept pace with innovation of smoke-free technologies – and now is the time for governments across the country to act urgently with a risk-based approach to protect the almost five million existing adult smokers in Canada.

            It is our hope that this important step in the U.S. leads to a serious conversation among decision makers across Canada about applying the same principles of harm reduction that have been used successfully with alcoholic beverages and cannabis in Canada.

            Heated tobacco products have been developed to provide adult smokers with an alternative to continuing to smoke cigarettes. In the three years since IQOS was first introduced in Canada, thousands of adult smokers have completely switched from smoking cigarettes to using heated tobacco products.


About RBH

Rothmans, Benson and Hedges (RBH), a subsidiary of Philip Morris International Inc., is one of Canada’s leading tobacco companies. We are also leading the Unsmoke Canada conversation and helping Canadians go smoke-free.

We employ more than 780 people in seven offices and one manufacturing plant across Canada.

At RBH, we think big, start small, and move fast by celebrating diversity of opinions to ensure the best ideas win.

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