The World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control exhorts Parties to implement tax policies aimed at reducing tobacco consumption. As a signatory, the European Union passed legislation i requiring Member States to apply cigarette taxes to ensure that, as of January 1st 2014, at least 90 &#8364 per 1000 units are excised, regardless of brand or category. Many Member States anticipated this move, and introduced taxation legislation.

Spain’s minimum tax on manufactured cigarettes legislation has been operating since February 2006. However, the Spanish territory of the Canary Islands is subject to a special tax measures aimed at stimulating their distant offshore economy, and therefore tobacco products in the Canary Islands were not subject to the type of excise duties that were implemented elsewhere in Spain (mainland and the Balearics). This study was therefore able to compare cigarette prices and smoking prevalence in both areas.

Бngel Lуpez Nicolбs, Lourdes Badillo Amador, and M. Belйn Cobacho Tornel found that prior to the legislation coming into effect in 2006, the annual increase of cigarette prices in both the Canary Islands and the rest of Spain were quite similar, at an average of 5%. However, after 2006, the difference is stark prices rose by 44% before taking inflation (8.3%) into account in Spain in the years 2006 2010, but by only 10% before inflation (8.5%) in the Canary Islands during the same period.

The authors then examined both immediate and longer term effects on smoking prevalence after the introduction of the legislation and found that the hikes in cigarette prices do not seem to have affected smoking prevalence amongst males, either shortly after the reform or three years hence. In the case of women, the study found no significant effects in the short term, with estimates ranging between 3.36% and 4.3% in the long term.

Lead author Бngel Lуpez Nicolбs, of the Universidad Politйcnica de Cartagena, comments, “the lack of a robust effect on prevalence more than three years hence is surprising given the clear effect on cigarette prices. Indeed, finding a statistically significant effect on prevalence only for females and, even then, with only one of our estimation methods, runs against the well established notion that smoking prevalence responds to price rises.”

The authors looked into the Spanish tobacco market to find out why this might be so. They found that the price of fine cut tobacco for use in hand rolled cigarettes fell in real terms between 2005 and 2008 and has remained well below that of manufactured cigarettes, with the share of fine cut tobacco over total tobacco sales more than trebling (from 1.6% to 5.1% of sales). This suggests that smokers may have taken up hand rolled cigarettes since the introduction of the minimum tax legislation, which until 2009 only applied to manufactured cigarettes.

“In this sense,” says Lуpez Nicolбs, “the new tax regime has performed poorly in regard of the public health objective of reducing tobacco consumption. It seems that a necessary condition to achieve such a reduction would be to plug the tax loophole that allows fine cut tobacco into the market at a substantive discount compared to manufactured cigarettes.

“As for the EU wide implications, there is a relevant policy message implied by our results. The countries that have introduced a minimum tax on manufactured cigarettes might achieve little in terms of reductions in smoking prevalence if they allow a tax gap between fine cut tobacco and manufactured cigarettes. Member States should be proactive in this regard if they wish to successfully implement the WHO Framework Convention guidelines on taxation.”

i Council Directive CD 2011/64/EU

European officials approve ban on menthol cigarettes

Ukraine’s ‘lost’ cigarettes flood europe

STRASBOURG, France This week’s vote by the members of the European Parliament (MEPs) has all but put an expiration date on menthol cigarettes across Europe.

The parliament voted to ban menthol and other flavors beginning in 2022. However, in what is considered a defeat to MEPs from the United Kingdom, the members voted against regulating electronic cigarettes as medicines, according to a report by The Guardian. Instead, e cigarettes will be regulated along the same lines as tobacco products.

In June, The U.K.’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency said it will treat e cigarettes as medicines, “so that people using these products have the confidence they are safe, are of the right quality and work.” The agency will regulate other products containing nicotine in a similar fashion however, cigarettes are exempt from the rule, as CSNews Online previously reported.

Health officials and the e cigarette industry in the United Kingdom are now seeking to clarify what the European Parliament’s moves mean for instance, whether companies in the fast expanding market face the same bans on sponsorship and promotion at sports events as tobacco firms. The Department of Health (DoH) would not comment on the advertising issue until officials had studied the MEPs’ decisions.

“We are very pleased to see the move toward tougher action on tobacco, with Europe wide controls banning flavored cigarettes and the introduction of stricter rules on front of pack health warnings,” the DoH said in a statement to the newspaper. “However, we are disappointed with the decision to reject the proposal to regulate nicotine containing products, including e cigarettes, as medicines. We believe these products need to be regulated as medicines and will continue to make this point during further negotiations.”

The U.K. e cigarette industry, which broadly welcomed the parliament’s vote, said it was already in talks with the Advertising Standards Authority, but added that it would not be “sensible, proportionate, reasonable or useful” to ban all advertising.

MEPs decided e cigarettes should only be regulated as medical products if manufacturers claimed they could cure or prevent smoking tobacco a decision criticized by the government’s main medicines regulator.

In addition to the menthol and e cigarette issues, the MEPs also approved a motion to put health warnings on 65 percent of each cigarette pack, as opposed to the 75 percent that was initially proposed. At present, the warnings cover at least 30 percent on the front and 40 percent on the back, the newspaper said.

“We applaud the European Parliament’s landmark decision that vaporizing devices, like electronic cigarettes, should not be regulated as medicinal products. Such regulation would misclassify the products, subjecting them to regulations intended for a very different category. It would also potentially limit the industry’s ability to continuously improve its products through technology innovation,” said Cynthia Cabrera, executive director of the Smoke Free Alternatives Trade Association (SFATA), based in Hallandale Beach, Fla.

“In addition, we are in agreement with the European Parliament’s decision to restrict the sale of electronic cigarette products to minors, and we support any effort domestic or otherwise made by legislative agencies and organizations to keep electronic cigarettes out of the hands of underage consumers,” she continued. “Electronic cigarettes are intended for and should only be available to adults.”

SFATA is dedicated to the advocacy, education and reputation of the electronic cigarette industry. The association’s primary concern is the fair regulation of electronic cigarettes in a way that creates an even playing field for all companies in the market.