The content of tobacco products must be regulated and authorities and the public have the right to know what the products contain, according to the Tobacco Convention. It is not just about protecting people from the hazardous contents of the products, but also against what makes them attractive.
Snus is snus, albeit in golden cans, so the famous Swedish poet Gustav Fröding wrote in a famous poem from 1894. Something similar is expressed in the guidelines for Articles 9 and 10 of the Tobacco Convention. It is about understanding that something is not good, just because it looks good.
Article 9 of the Tobacco Convention stipulates that countries, in consultation with international bodies, must develop guidelines for testing and measuring the content, and emissions from consumption, of tobacco products. It is also about how the products can be regulated.
Article 10 deals with countries having laws and regulations that ensure that manufacturers and importers inform government agencies about the content of tobacco products and emissions from consumption. Countries must also ensure that the public has access to information about the products and their toxic constituents.
The common guidelines for Articles 9 and 10 of the Tobacco Convention state that tobacco products are often produced in a way that makes them as attractive as possible. From a public health perspective, this is not desirable. The Convention therefore calls on countries to introduce laws and regulations that reduce attractiveness.
The guidelines for Articles 9 and 10 highlight three perspectives on tobacco products: toxicity, the risk of them becoming addictive and their attractiveness. The guidelines contain several calls for ways to make the products less attractive. Some examples:
Countries should regulate the presence of ingredients that make the tobacco product tasty. These can be, for example, sugar, sweeteners and spices / herbs such as mint, cinnamon and ginger.
Countries should ban ingredients that give the feeling that they are good for health. These can be, for example, vitamins, and products from fruit and vegetable juices.
Countries should regulate product design aimed at increasing the attractiveness of products. It refers to the constantly ongoing product development that aims to meet different consumers’ wishes in terms of feeling of health, modernity, self-image, comfort, glamor and more.
Information to the public and authorities
In addition to regulations, information can also reduce the products’ attractiveness. The guidelines state that the primary purpose of information is for the public to be aware of the health consequences, that the products are addictive and that tobacco consumption and exposure to tobacco smoke constitute a deadly threat.
The authorities need knowledge of the national tobacco market to build up regulations and policies for how the products are to be handled. For example, it can be important to know the amount of nicotine in different products on the market, given that nicotine is the main substance when it comes to creating addiction.