Mission and Activities of the WHO Study Group on Tobacco Product Regulation (TobReg)
Erik Dybing, MD, PhD, Division of Environmental Medicine, Norwegian Institute of Public Health, PO Box 4404 Nydalen, Oslo, NO-0403, Norway
In 2000, WHO established its Scientific Advisory Committee on Tobacco Product Regulation (SACTob). The Director-General formalised the status of SACTob into a Study Group (TobReg) in 2003. This enabled a mechanism to report to the WHO's Executive Board in order to draw attention of Member States to WHO's efforts in tobacco product regulation, which is a recent and complex area of tobacco control. Thus, TobReg advises WHO about scientifically sound recommendations addressing the most effective and evidence-based means to achieve a co-ordinated regulatory framework for tobacco products. These recommendations are based on cutting edge research on tobacco product issues and aimed to fill the regulatory gaps in tobacco control. With respect to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), TobReg will assist the Conference of the Parties in the development of guidelines on regulation of the contents and emissions of tobacco products, of tobacco product disclosures, and of packaging and labelling. The Study Group will be involved in the FCTC process for providing guidelines for testing and measuring the contents and emissions of tobacco products. SACTob/TobReg has so far addressed a number of different topics: Health claims derived from machine measurement of cigarette yield; nicotine and its regulation in tobacco and non-tobacco products; tobacco product ingredients and emissions; smokeless tobacco products; evaluation of new or modified tobacco products; guiding principles for development of tobacco product research and testing capacity; protocols for the initiation of tobacco product testing; waterpipe tobacco smoking; and biomarkers of tobacco exposure and tobacco smoke-induced health risks.