19 November 2015 on the International Day of Quitting Smoking, the activists of the coalition of “Smoke Free Ukraine” together with the members of parliament and the representatives of Ministry of Health and the Bureau of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Ukraine held a campaign demanding to prohibit production and sale of flavoured cigarettes in Ukraine. Such a prohibition will be introduced in all countries of the European Union in May 2016. Cigarettes with the flavour of vanilla, apple, strawberry, chocolate and other flavours constitute the major part of a product range and are designed primarily for teenagers, young people and women.
During the campaign, a “tobacco confectioner” – a magician dressed as a death – prepared “tobacco deserts” made of cigarettes and confectionery ingredients, which make the death product “tastier” and more attractive for children to try them for the first time.
Mainly children and youth are the target group of tobacco industry, as for 70% of smokers gain tobacco addiction before 18 years old, and 94% before 25. These deceptively “delicious” tobacco packaging are very bright and are meant to attract young people and women.
Aiming at reducing the harmful effects of tobacco on the health of the population in April last year, the EU adopted Directive 2014/40 / EC, which obliged all EU countries at the legislative level ban the flavoured supplements, and tobacco companies to submit a list of ingredients to health authorities in open data format.
In May 2015, the deputies of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine in cooperation with the experts registered draft law No2820 «On Amendments to Some Laws of Ukraine on Protection of Public Health from the Harmful Effects of Tobacco.” The document is a step towards implementing of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and Directive 2014/40 / EC.
“The draft law No2820 promotes the right to health without borders. The Ukrainian citizens at the level of the citizens of the Member States of the EU should be protected from the harmful effects of tobacco. Willingness of the Parliament to introduce the European standards regarding the regulation of tobacco productions shall become an indicator of the readiness to establish higher standards of living in Ukraine. Attempt to weaken the regulation and introduce the 15 years old standards is a crime against children and youth,” – stated Andriy Skipalskiy, the head of the Ukrainian Centre of Tobacco Control, NGO “Zhyttya” (“Life”).
The legislation introduces the prohibition of tobacco production with the specific flavours. Moreover, it is advised to change the exterior look of packs of cigarettes. The size of warnings shall increase from 50 to 65%; they shall be situated in the upper half of a pack and will have graphic health warnings on both sides of a cigarette pack, in accordance with the EU example. All described actions are consistent with the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and Directive 2014/40 / EC.
“In response to the globalization of tobacco epidemic, on 27 February 2005 the first ever treaty, adopted under the auspices of the World Health Organization – WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), was developed and came into force. The fifty states of the WHO European Region are currently parties of the Framework Convention, and Ukraine ratified this document in 2006. The European Regional Bureau (ERB) has developed a roadmap of actions aimed at strengthening measures to implement the FCTC in the Region, whose main objective is a relative decrease of the current prevalence of tobacco use in individuals aged 15 and older, at least of 30% by 2025. The World Health Organization and the WHO office in Ukraine support our country in the implementation of the FCTC – articles 9, 10, 11, which are reflected in the Directive 2014/40 / EC and in the proposed draft law No 2820 on labeling, regulation and disclosure of the composition of tobacco products. This helps to protect young people from the harmful effects of smoking,” – said Natalia King, the head of the Department of Combating Non-communicable Diseases of the WHO Country Office in Ukraine.
Nicotine in cigarettes is the main substance that is addictive. However, the popular ingredients like sugar, menthol, cinnamon, vanilla, cocoa, chocolate are added to tobacco products to make them more pleasant to taste and attractive to young people. They also create the illusion of health benefits, as alleged neutralize the negative effects of smoking. However, behind this, additional risk factors to the health of people are hidden. Sugar and chocolate, according to the WHO, when burning emit toxic substances, salts of organic acids muffles bitter taste of nicotine, menthol and anesthetic effect facilitates deeper inhaling tobacco smoke.
“A man, his life and health recognized by the Constitution as the highest social value in Ukraine. Therefore, the duty of the state is to create the conditions for sustaining the health of its citizens. Tobacco use is one of the most harmful habits of a man. The draft law No2820 envisages introduction of modern anti-tobacco control regulations to prevent nicotine addiction, especially among young people. I urge my colleagues to support this legislative initiative and make an important contribution to the nation’s health, “- said Oleh Musiy, the member of parliament of Ukraine.
Flavouring, aromatic and pharmacological ingredients are dangerous since they make cigarettes attractive, stylish products to potential smokers, together with nicotine they strengthens the appearance of addiction. For this reason, the legislation No2820 would be a significant step towards a healthy nation, free from tobacco addiction and children’s smoking.
Relevant to mention that implementation of the draft law does not involve any costs from the state budget. All costs for the implementation of changes to packaging and labelling of tobacco products will bear tobacco corporations. If the adoption of the legislation is not going to be hampered, the companies will have enough time to introduce relevant changes.
The Ministry of Health supports the regulation No2820, which will help to ensure a high level of health protection/ care of the Ukrainians.
Yulia Solokha, the coordinator of the project “Tobacco Free Kyiv”