There are a number of measures that can be implemented to make cigarettes less appealing and less addictive. For example, manufacturers could make cigarettes a darker colour. They could also stop using ingredients like sugars and flavourings. This is the outcome of a literature review carried out by RIVM. For the first time, a list of possible policy measures has been proposed in the Netherlands.

These measures can help achieve one of the goals in the National Prevention Agreement: a smoke-free generation by 2040. This means that by 2040, no more than 5% of Dutch people aged 18 and over still smoke and no more children will smoke.

Stricter rules

One measure that policymakers can take is to set stricter requirements for the appearance and composition of cigarettes. This can make cigarettes less appealing and less addictive. The literature review showed that the following measures can be helpful:

  • Ban the use of filter ventilation. This way, manufacturers can no longer give the impression that some types of cigarettes cause less harm. In addition, policymakers could consider banning filters entirely. This would also protect the environment. Filters are made from plastics that do not break down well. This means they stay in the environment as microplastics for many years.
  • Expand standard requirements for cigarettes appearance to make them even less appealing. For example, policymakers could obligate manufacturers to make cigarettes a darker colour or to print a health warning on cigarettes.
  • Lower the nicotine content of cigarettes to a very low level (0.4 instead of 16 milligrams per gram of tobacco). This will make them less addictive. Public communication is an important part of this. Consumers need to know that these cigarettes cause no less harm than cigarettes with a ‘regular’ level of nicotine. They are only less addictive.
  • Ban ingredients that make cigarettes more appealing to new smokers, such as sugars and flavourings. They also make it more difficult for current smokers to stop smoking. Ingredients that make it easier to inhale cigarette smoke are already banned for this reason. Policymakers should make clear which ingredients are banned and make sure that these ingredients are no longer added to cigarettes. They could do this by creating a list of ingredients for which the ban can be enforced.
  • If policymakers implement stricter requirements for cigarettes, smokers may start using other, less regulated products.  Policymakers can prevent this by making sure that these recommendations also apply to other tobacco products and related products.

RIVM carried out this literature review on behalf of the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport.

For more information on how to make cigarettes less harmful, addictive and attractive see this recommended list of banned substances by RIVM.