Tobacco product regulation: building laboratory testing capacity
WHO has launched new guidance on tobacco product regulation in response to the need for clear, practical advice on building laboratory testing capacity.
The “Tobacco product regulation: Building laboratory testing capacity”, launched during the 2018 World Conference on Tobacco or Health in Cape Town, provides practical, stepwise approaches to implementing tobacco testing. Such guidance is relevant to a wide range of countries in various settings, even those with inadequate resources to establish a testing facility.
Tobacco use is a global health burden. However, despite the devastating effects of tobacco use, only a handful of countries currently regulate tobacco products, including on how the product is made, the contents of the product and emissions from tobacco products during us, to which users and bystanders can be exposed.
This is partly due to the challenges associated with the regulation of tobacco products, the highly technical nature of this policy intervention and the difficulties in translating science into regulation. Failure to regulate represents a missed opportunity as tobacco product regulation, in the context of comprehensive control, is a valuable tool that could complement other tried and tested tobacco control interventions, such as raising taxes, smoke-free environments, etc.
The new tobacco laboratory guide is a useful resource for countries, and provides regulators and policymakers with comprehensible information on how to test tobacco products, what products to test, and how to use testing data in a meaningful way to support regulation. Further, it provides a step-by-step guide to developing a testing laboratory, using an existing internal laboratory, contracting an external laboratory, and making use of the available support mechanisms both within WHO and externally.
This calls for country prioritization and commitment of resources to tobacco product regulation, as the useful information provided in this publication will help to strengthen tobacco regulation capacity, especially in relation to Article 9 of the WHO FCTC.