5-10 February 2024: Tenth Conference of the Parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (COP 10)

Delegates from around the world gathered in Panama City for the 10th Conference of the Parties (COP10) to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, the WHO FCTC. During this meeting, representatives from 142 parties discussed the progress on implementation of the FCTC and other issues that could enhance and advance tobacco control worldwide. The Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS) participated on behalf of the Netherlands and asked RIVM to be there to provide relevant scientific evidence and background to support the meetings. RIVM organized an information session about the attractive properties of tobacco and nicotine products and policy options to make these products less attractive. We also contributed to a WHO information session on cigarette ventilation and were present with an information booth throughout the week. Besides, RIVM officers visited the Gorgas Research Institute, with the Dutch Deputy Minister of Health. The COP10 has concluded with far-reaching decisions that will protect the environment and the health of people and strengthen guidelines on cross-border tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, and the depiction of tobacco in the entertainment media. In addition, two expert groups were established: one to work on forward-looking tobacco control measures under Article 2.1 of the WHO FCTC and the other to focus on Article 19, which concerns liability.

11 – 15 December 2023: WHO TobLabNet meeting and training

WHO organized a Tobacco Laboratory Network (TobLabNet) meeting, hosted by the Masonic Cancer Centre, University of Minnesota in Minneapolis from 11 – 15 December 2023. Current and new members of TobLabNet were informed on the progress and future planning of the development of WHO Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). Specific attention was given to the recently published methods for the determination of components in smokeless tobacco and the ongoing work for the measurement of flavors in e-liquids and cigarette tobacco.
Walther Klerx (RIVM), vice-chair of WHO TobLabNet, presented the progress of the SOPs for the determination of nicotine and aldehydes in the emission of Heated Tobacco Products and the determination of tobacco specific nitrosamines in waterpipe tobacco. He also presented an overview of the WHO TobLabNet procedures describing the process of method development, validation and review of TobLabNet SOPs.
Additionally to the WHO TobLabNet meeting, the University of Minnesota organized a two-day training. New WHO TobLabNet members received more information on how tobacco and tobacco related products can be tested. And Walther Klerx presented an overview of how the statistical evaluation of WHO TobLabNet SOPs can be performed. The aim of this training was to expand the global laboratory capacity for tobacco product testing by laboratories not related to the tobacco industry.

23 August 2023: Background papers to inform TobReg

RIVM wrote two background papers together with international co-authors to inform the WHO Study Group on Tobacco Product Regulation (TobReg). TobReg prepares evidence-based recommendations on the regulation of nicotine and tobacco products for the WHO technical report series. These are submitted to the Board of Directors to inform product regulation in countries. 
The first background paper presents a review of the available evidence on additives that facilitate inhalation, including the effects of nicotine salts and menthol. The second background paper covered marketing, industry strategies and regulatory considerations regarding nicotine pouches.
Both papers are published in the WHO technical report series: WHO study group on tobacco product regulation: report on the scientific basis of tobacco product regulation: ninth report of a WHO study group.

21 – 23 June 2023: Global Consultation on Novel and Emerging Nicotine and Tobacco Products

A Global Consultation on Novel and Emerging Nicotine and Tobacco Products was organised by WHO, from 21 – 23 June 2023. International experts, NGOs, Scientists and Tobacco Control Focal Points from Ministries of Health and or relevant regulatory agencies deliberated on pertinent issues and topics related to building capacity for regulation of these products. They also discussed the approaches taken to date to regulate or control these products and held a brainstorm on how to address the challenges posed by these products. Dr Doctor (Doctor) Reinskje Talhout, head of RIVM's WHO Collaborating Centre on Tobacco Product Regulation and Control, presented on the characteristics and science of nicotine pouches, and participated in an expert panel on this topic.

19 – 20 June 2023: Global workshop on Flavours

RIVM participated in the Global Workshop on Flavours, which was organised by WHO and held in Geneva from 19 – 20 June 2023. Tobacco control and regulatory experts from the six regions of WHO discussed regulatory issues surrounding flavoured tobacco and non-therapeutic nicotine products. They explored how flavours are being used to undermine Tobacco Control and how flavour accessories escape regulations in many jurisdictions. Dr Reinskje Talhout, head of RIVM's WHO Collaborating Centre on Tobacco Product Regulation and Control, presented our work on Flavour Accessories and Tobacco Products, as well as its Implications for Regulation. Flavour accessories are products that consumers can add to unflavoured tobacco products. Thus, the effect of flavour bans will be diminished. RIVM recommended that advertising and sales should be restricted in order to support tobacco control policies. RIVM also contributed to proposing a definition of flavouring agent that would be helpful for future regulation.

25 May 2023: World No Tobacco Day Awards 2023

Dr Reinskje Talhout is one of the winners of the 2023 World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) Awards, celebrating the achievements of inspiring individuals. As the head of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Tobacco Product Regulation and Control hosted by RIVM she is a pioneer in tobacco product regulatory science who has been investigating the chemical composition and properties of tobacco products since 2004. She has demonstrated exceptional dedication and innovation in the field of tobacco control, pushing the boundaries to create a healthier, tobacco-free future for all. Furthermore, Dr Talhout’s research has been instrumental in illuminating the role of flavours and other sensory factors in the attractiveness of novel tobacco and nicotine products. With contributing to a better understanding of the attractive, addictive and toxic properties of tobacco and nicotine products, she has made a significant impact.

World No Tobacco Day Awards 2023

14 March 2023: WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control

RIVM was invited to support a meeting on the Implementation of Articles 9 & 10 of the WHO FCTC, which was organised by WHO and held in Egypt in March 2023. Reinskje Talhout, head of RIVM's WHO Collaborating Centre on Tobacco Product Regulation and Control, presented the Dutch experience regulating tobacco products' attractiveness, addictiveness and toxicity. After a general introduction, her presentation focused on e-liquid flavouring regulation, additives banned by the EU European Union (European Union) Tobacco Products Directive, and nicotine pouch regulation. A lively discussion followed, giving participants the opportunity to pose questions and improve their knowledge or have a better understanding or learn from the experience of the Netherlands. 

Walther Klerx, vice-chair of WHO TobLabNet, also from RIVM, was invited to present on capacity building for testing the content and emissions of nicotine and tobacco products. This presentation provided information on challenges and good practices for regulatory tobacco product testing. Participants also received more information on practical approaches for testing tobacco products in different types of laboratories. 

With our contributions, we provided support to WHO on its work on Tobacco Product Regulation, which has the potential to significantly reduce the demand for and use of tobacco, and the resulting burden of disease by effective regulation of the contents, design features and emissions of tobacco products.

16 - 17 December 2022: Workshop on Tobacco Product Disclosures for countries

RIVM supported WHO by sharing their expertise during a workshop on Tobacco Product Disclosures for three countries in Europe to contribute to WHO’s efforts to support these countries in meeting their policy goal of strengthening implementation of Articles 9 and 10 of the WHO FCTC. The workshop took place in Tbilisi, Georgia, on 16 and 17 December 2022. RIVM participated remotely and delivered four presentations. The first presentation introduced several common tobacco product ingredients and their effects on users in terms of attractiveness, addictiveness and toxicity. The second showed the type of data provided by tobacco manufacturers in The Netherlands and some examples of how and why to use this data. The third presentation showed how more advanced analyses can be applied to identify trends and patterns in the data. The final presentation covered examples of how tobacco and e-cigarette product data is used in the Netherlands, for example, to establish a list of ingredients to be allowed in e-cigarettes. With this workshop, we aim to support the participating countries in developing their own systems for tobacco product disclosures and analyzing data provided by manufacturers.