Counteracting tobacco industry interference on heat-not-burn tobacco regulation in Portugal: lessons learnt
S Ravara 1,2,3
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University of Beira Interior, Faculty of Health Sciences, Covilhã, Portugal
CHCB University Hospital, Tobacco Treatment Unit, Covilhã, Portugal
NOVA University, National School of Public Health, CISP, Lisbon, Portugal
NOVA University of Lisbon, Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, CICS, Lisbon, Portugal,
CATR-Centre for Advocacy, Lisbon, Portugal
Portuguese Confederation for Tobacco Prevention-COPPT, Lisbon, Portugal
Publication date: 2018-06-13
Corresponding author
S Ravara   

University of Beira Interior, Faculty of Health Sciences, Covilhã, Portugal
Tob. Prev. Cessation 2018;4(Supplement):A198
Aim and objective: Most countries experience challenges to implement guidelines on tobacco industry (TI) interference in policy-making. Heat-not-burn (HNB) tobacco products (TPs) have being aggressively marketed and promoted by the TI as potentially reduced exposure products and harm reduction tools. HNB-TPs remain unregulated mostly due to scarce independent research to support evidence-base arguments regarding the regulation of these emergent products. In 2016, the Portuguese Government proposed a bill which would equate HNB-TPs to traditional TPs. We aimed to analyse the policy-making process regarding the political negotiation of HNB-TPs regulation.

Methods: We analysed the records of the parliamentarian audiences; media publications, policy makers and stakeholder’s interviews and declarations.

This bill was directly discussed by the Parliamentarian Health Commission. Intensive hearings engaged different stakeholders. Notably, the first audience involved Philip Morris. The media followed with great interest the polemic debate between the health advocates, the TI and its allies: the main argument was the need for tobacco control (TC) harm reduction strategies. Finally, Portugal equated HNB-TPs to TPs applying similar measures to HNB-TPs regarding protection of environmental exposure, advertising and promotion. Advocacy strengths: engagement of national/international public health leaders/organisations; a priority-focus strategy; publicly denouncing TI interference; media interest and support. Challenges: poor capacity building due to limited partnership with the government; poor awareness of article 5.3 WHO guidelines; underfunding of advocacy activities; difficulty in counteracting harm reduction positions from more advanced TC countries and TI research published in prestigious scientific journals.

The scientific and public health schism on harm reduction may undermine TC in lower capacity building countries, ie. those who have the most need to progress.

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