Tobacco and Vapes Bill

Written evidence submitted by the European Cigar Manufacturers Association (ECMA) regarding the Tobacco and Vaping Bill  (TVB12)

Executive summary

In summary, ECMA believes that

· regulators should approach tobacco control legislation in a balanced and proportionate way, based on sound and publicly available scientific evidence;

· the British authorities should prioritise regulatory action against those products that pose higher youth and daily usage concerns;

· the available evidence reflects that cigars/cigarillos remain enjoyment products predominantly consumed on an occasional basis and continue to comprise a marginal and declining component of overall smoking prevalence across Europe, where figures across the EU and the UK also demonstrate consistently that cigars/cigarillos hold little interest for younger legal-age consumers;

· seeking to impose additional regulations on the small-business European and Central American cigar industry is an inappropriate use of resources that will not yield the population-based benefits the British regulators should focus its resources on; and

· the British Parliament should exclude cigars/cigarillos from the scope of the ban foreseen in the Tobacco and Vaping Bill .

The European cigar sector

1. While the global tobacco industry is generally comprised of large multinational corporations, the European cigar/cigarillo industry is characterised by its medium sized businesses. As such, The European Cigar Manufacturers Association’s (ECMA) members represent 73% of cigars/cigarillos placed on the E uropean market [1] . In fact, with only a few exceptions, European cigar/cigarillo manufacturers continue to be owned and controlled by their founding families. With an average 150 years of experience in craftsmanship, these companies are also deeply rooted in their local economies, communities, and national heritage. Of its 21 full members , ECMA boasts seventeen family-owned companies – including 7 falling under the definition of SMEs – from all across Europe, all with strong regional roots. None of the so-called ‘Big Tobacco’ companies are part of ECMA’s membership.

2. The distribution chain involved in the trade of cigars/cigarillos in the United Kingdom (UK) is also composed of a myriad group of smaller businesses, including importers, distributors, retailers, and very often specialised stores. In fact, the vast majority of importers and distributors of tobacco products in the UK working with European manufacturers are SMEs and m icro-businesses which employ significantly fewer than 50 people. Considering the very limited scale of these businesses’ operations, and the specialist nature of the products, their contribution to the national smoking prevalence and their share of the total tobacco market in the UK continue to result in a statistically insignificant percentage. The application of the proposed generational ban to cigars/cigarillos would have a devasting effect on the future viability of these businesses and their values as going concerns.

3. Considering its representativity over the cigar sector, ECMA is submitting evidence on the well-documented and specific nature of cigar/cigarillo consumption to maintain a differential regulatory treatment.

A smokefree generational ban applicable to all tobacco products – a departure from an established differential regulatory treatment

4 . Historically, the UK government’s initiatives to prevent, reduce and eliminate the consumption of tobacco products have largely been concerned in practice with the promotion and use of cigarettes and hand-rolling tobacco, the combination of which account for the vast majority of tobacco products consumed in Great Britain. In many instances, the introduction of policy measures has by default been extended to Other Tobacco Products ( OTPs ), including cigars/cigarillos .

5 . More recently, however, the G overnment has recogni s ed that cigars/cigarillos, within the OTPs category, represent a category of products with distinct and unique features from cigarettes and hand-rolling tobacco in terms of market structure , distribution networks, consumer profiles , consumption patterns and production characteristics . As a result, cigars/cigarillos have been subject to differential treatment with respect to measures such as the UK’s standardised packaging regulations, health warning requirements,  and pack inserts [2] .  Such an approach is not only consistent with sound, evidence-based policy making and the present G overnment’s commitment to the same, but also with the vast majority of European countries which apply a differentiated regulatory treatment for cigars/cigarillos [3] .

6 . It is our view, that policy development for tobacco products, including a proposed generational ban, should continue to recognise the differences that exist between categories of products.

UK market for cigars/cigarillos

7 . ECMA note s first and foremost that as of 2022 , cigars/cigarillos constituted a niche category and only accounted for 0 . 96 % share of the UK tobacco market, with cigarettes and hand-rolling tobacco accounting for a 97.8 % share, and ‘others’ comprising 1 .24 % (Source: HMRC Clearance Data). Contrary to what has been recently suggested [4] , the traditional c igar s/ci garillos category shows a decline of 27.2% over the past 5 years.

8 . Cigars / cigarillos therefore remain enjoyment products and continue to comprise a marginal and declining component of overall smoking prevalence across the UK [5] . The segment is so insignificant that it is already well below the G overnment’s 2030 smokefree target of 5% or less smoking incidence. Providing an exception for cigars/cigarillos to the proposed generational sales ban will therefore not impede on said objective.

Use patterns of cigars/cigarillos

9 . It is a well-recogni s ed fact that cigars/cigarillos’ consumption is markedly distinguishable from cigarettes , hand-rolling tobacco and vaping in their use patterns .

10 . First and foremost, ECMA would like to highlight that the prevalence of cigars/cigarillos use (as well as for the rest of the OTP category) among the UK population is so insignificant that neither the DHSC nor the Office for National Statistics currently tracks their incidence .

1 1 . Previous and foreign studies can however fill this gap data to conclude that ci gars / cigarillos typically appeal to mature consumers, who tend to be higher-income, higher-educated, and aware of the health risks associated with smoking . In this sense, it has been demonstrate d consistently that cigars / cigarillos hold little interest for younger legal- age consumers .

1 2 . In the past, the 2012 Omnimas Survey findings reported that 90% of cigar/cigarillo users are over 25 years old, and 78% are over 35 years old. These findings are consistent the 2021 European Commission’s Support Study to the report on the application of Directive 2014/40/EU, which found practically no use of cigars/cigarillos in the under-25 age group in the UK [6] . Similarly, the German Federal Statistical Office 2021 microcensus also determined that cigars and cigarillos are predominantly consumed in the 45-75 age group , with the proportion of males comprising close to 80% of that cohort [7] .

1 3 . Additionally, the 2021 Eurobarometer report also confirms that cigars/cigarillos are not products associated with smoking initiation . Among all respondents in the UK who have tried tobacco products, the most common first experience of tobacco is by far cigarettes ( 74 %) with only 4 % mentioning cigars and 2 % cigarillos [8] .

1 4 . These facts underlie the British G overnment’s tobacco control efforts with its focus on cigarettes and the hand-rolling tobacco segment. They also significantly support the exclusion of cigars/cigarillos from the proposed generational sales ban, as their inclusion would make no measurable contribution to achieving the G overnment’s stated policy objective of protecting young Britons from the harms of smoking and nicotine intake.

1 5 . Most importantly, cigars and cigarillos are also generally consumed less frequently than cigarettes by individual consumers. While a small minority of cigar/cigarillo smokers use these products daily, others might smoke only a few cigars per month. In fact, the latest Eurobarometer [9] on tobacco consumption continues to  show that cigars/cigarillos are predominantly consumed on an occasional basis as opposed to cigarettes and new nicotine products:

· 51% of British smokers smoke cigarettes on a daily basis

· 43% of British smokers smoke hand-rolling cigarettes on a daily basis

· 3% of British smokers smoke cigarillos on a daily basis

· 1% of British smokers smoke cigars on a daily basis

Incorrect policy references

Departure from responsible tobacco regulation based on personal responsibility

1 6 . While ECMA and its members acknowledge the health risks associated with smoking, we also believe that adults should have the freedom and autonomy to make lifestyle choices, especially those affecting their health. The proposed ban constitutes therefore a significant and radical departure from responsible tobacco regulation which has heretofore focused on allowing consumers access to legal tobacco products while ensuring they are aware of the risks of smoking.

1 7 . This echoes what Neil O’Brien, Minister for Primary Care and Public Health stated on 11 April 2023: "… The Khan Review last year advocated the New Zealand approach …. this would be a major departure from the policy pursued over recent decades which has emphasised personal responsibility and help for people to quit. And it is the help for current smokers to quit that we want to focus on. And, there is much more we can do to help people quit smoking …." [10] .

1 8 . Following this statement, we strongly believe that the Government could drive down smoking rates by concentrating on specific measures targeting youth tobacco and nicotine use, rather than imposing a blanket ban (i.e. stronger enforcement against retailers who sell tobacco and nicotine products to minors, alongside more targeted education campaigns which are effective deterrents to prevent young people from initiation) and by concentrating on specific products contributing to tobacco and nicotine initiation .

New Zealand’s generational tobacco ban

1 9 . His Majesty’s Government ’s command paper  Stopping the start: our new plan to create a smokefree generation [11] , refers to New Zealand’s Smokefree 2025 Action Plan as a reference point. Last month, the country held elections which saw the National Party win more seats than any other party. The new coalition government, led by the National Party and New Zealand First, has announced [12]  that it plans to repeal the ban . It would seem to ECMA to be more prudent to instead first pursue and assess the effectiveness of other tobacco control initiatives proposed by His Majesty’s Government before embracing the radical step of an age ban .

A non-tariff trade barrier running against Global Britain’s ambitions

20 . The proposed generation ban also constitutes a non-tariff trade barrier going in contradiction with objectives set in the Global Britain’ strategy. In that regard, ECMA notes that cigars / cigarillos represent traditional export products recognised as part of the cultural heritage in several countries who recently ratified Economic Partnership’s Agreement with His Majesty Government – namely Honduras and the Dominican Republic.

2 1 . As such, the cigar sector also constitutes one of the main sources of employment in rural areas of the region – away from touristic areas. For examples:

· 165,700 workers in Santiago, La Vega, Espaillat, Puerto Plata, Valverde, Monte Cristi , Hato mayor, Cotui , Azua , San Juan (Dominican Republic );

· 46,000 workers in Copán , El Paraíso , Francisco Morazán , Olancho , Danlí (Honduras );

· 52,000 workers in Esteli and Nueva Segovia (Nicaragua).

Conclusion & Recommendation

2 2 . While the health risks associated with smoking are undeniable, ECMA believes that the approach to mitigating these risks should rest on regulation that is evidence-based and proportionate, and should balance public health objectives with personal freedoms, market trends, and practical enforcement challenges.

2 3 . I t is therefore our view that in light of the profile of our consumers and their use patterns, as well as the cumulative effect of existing measures, the present level of regulation is appropriate to ensure that adult consumers are able to make fully informed choices as whether to consume cigars/cigarillos .

2 4 . Although the G overnment’s goal of protecting young people from the harms of smoking and vaping is a laudable one, the inclusion of cigars/cigarillos in the measure to ban the sale of tobacco products to those born on or after 1 January 2009, will do nothing to advance this objective. Given the G overnment’s commitment to evidence-based policy making, and the lack of evidence presented in support of including cigars/cigarillos , urgent reconsideration of the measure’s scope by the British Parliament is required.

2 5 . ECMA would therefore recommend

· excluding cigars/cigarillos from the scope of the ban foreseen in the Tobacco and Vaping Bill ; and

· focusing on stronger enforcement against retailers who sell tobacco and nicotine products to younger legal-age consumers , alongside more targeted education campaigns .

April 2024

[1] The list of all ECMA members can be found on the ECMA website:

[2] See for example; , where the DHSC has indicated a preference for Option 2, with inserts only for cigarettes and rolling tobacco, but no other tobacco products.

[3] So far, only Ireland and Finland apply the same regulatory regime for all tobacco products.

[4] See for reference, Sarah E Jackson, Lion Shahab, Jamie Brown, Trends in Exclusive Non-Cigarette Tobacco Smoking in England: A Population Survey 2013–2023, Nicotine & Tobacco Research, 2024;, ntae021, The sharp rise in the number of people claiming to smoke non-cigarette tobacco in this study is obviously the result of the change in methodology during the COVID crisis.

[5] European Commission, Study on Council Directive 2011/64/EU on the structure and rates of excise duty applied to manufactured tobacco, January 2019 (hereinafter EA 2019), p. 76

[6] European Commission, Final Report: Support Study to the report on the application of Directive 2014/40/EU, May 2021, p. 290.

[7] BdZ, Indicators of smoking behavior - Microcensus 2021 (published in 2023) on smoking habits of the population aged 15 and over by gender and age, accessible here:

[8] Eurobarometer, Attitudes of Europeans towards tobacco and electronic cigarettes - Country Factsheets – United Kingdom, no 506, February 2021.

[9] Ibidem.

[10] Neil O’Brien, the Minister for Primary Care and Public Health, Speech at Policy Exchange on Smoke Free 2030, London, 11 April 2023, accessible here:

[11] DSCH, Command paper Stopping the start: our new plan to create a smokefree generation, October 2023, accessible here:

[12] New Zealand National Party & New Zealand First, Coalition Agreement, November 2023, p.8, accessible here:



Prepared 2nd May 2024