Cigarette testing method can downplay tar, nicotine content and court rules



There are “strong indications” that filter cigarettes on sale in the Netherlands could breach official EU limits on tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide, Rotterdam judges said on Friday.

The ruling, which follows a European Court of Justice ruling in February, gives Dutch food and product safety council NVWA six weeks to start ensuring the law is properly enforced and that cigarettes do not do not exceed the limits of the EU.

The court case follows tests carried out by the public health institute RIVM in 2018 which showed that the amount of tar in a cigarette can be up to 26 times the official standard and that the levels of nicotine and monoxide carbon are also far too high in most brands.

RIVM testing was done by covering the small ventilation holes with filter paper, a method that approximates how cigarettes are actually smoked. The current official testing method leaves these holes, put there by the tobacco industry, uncovered.

“It is not for the court to determine whether the method used by the RIVM complies with the European directive, but it is for the European Commission to propose a method of measurement that is,” the Rotterdam court said. “Until the European Commission does…there is no guarantee that filter cigarettes sold in the Netherlands comply with the guidelines.

EU standards

Ex-smokers and medical associations said in 2018 they would go to court to ban cigarettes that exceed European standards for nicotine, tar and carbon monoxide.

Wanda de Kanter, of youth anti-tobacco organization Stichting Rookpreventie Jeugd, said the decision was “extremely important” and that the court had effectively ended the use of fraudulent measurements of tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide emissions.

“It has allowed the tobacco industry to create and maintain addicts for years, but the decision clearly shows that this practice cannot last,” she said.NVWA must immediately remove all cigarettes from the shelves.

NVWA has yet to comment on the decision.

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