Anti-tobacco groups threaten court to get ‘too unhealthy’ cigarettes banned


Ex-smokers and medical associations are threatening legal action to ban cigarettes that exceed European norms for nicotine, tar and carbon monoxide, Trouw reported on Wednesday.

Results from a recent test on 100 cigarette brands show that the amount of tar can be up to 26 times the official norm. Nicotine and carbon monoxide levels are also far too high in most brands.

The test, published by the public health institute RIVM in June, was conducted by covering the small ventilation holes in the filter paper, a method that approaches the way cigarettes are actually smoked.

The official test leaves these holes, put there by the tobacco industry, uncovered. But smokers compress the holes with their lips and fingers and thus inhale much more of the carcinogenic and addictive substances.

Both the RIVM and health and safety watchdog NVWA pulled out of a commission which designed this controversial European measuring method because 10 of the 12 members worked in the tobacco industry.

In a reaction market leaders Philip Morris and British American Tobacco said their cigarettes comply with European norms and national Dutch legislation regarding tobacco.

Peter van den Driest, spokesperson for Philip Morris, said the European test was never meant to measure ‘actual exposure’ of smokers to tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide.

‘It was meant to enable to compare brands of cigarettes that are smoked in an identical way,’ he told the paper. Tobacco producers say it is up to governments to decide which testing method to use.

The organisations’ first port of call is health and safety watchdog NVWA but if it fails to enforce the tobacco legislation, they will go to court. Doing nothing would constitute an infringement of human rights, a lawyer for the organisations claims.

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