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Brazil’s Highest Court Upholds Ban on Flavored Tobacco Products

Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
February 01, 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Brazil’s Supreme Federal Court – the country’s highest court – ruled today that the Brazilian Health Regulatory Agency (ANVISA) has the power to regulate the tobacco industry. This ruling upholds a 2012 ANVISA regulation banning the use of flavors and additives in tobacco products sold in Brazil.

In 2012, Brazil became the first country in the world to ban the use of flavors and additives in tobacco products, including menthol. This ban was approved following two years of public hearings and broad stakeholder participation, including from the tobacco industry. However, the implementation of this regulation has been stalled until now because allies of the tobacco industry including tobacco industry lobbying group Sinditabaco sued ANVISA to block it.

The tobacco industry uses flavored tobacco products - including menthol and fruit flavors - to lure young customers, including children, into a life of tobacco addiction. While the tobacco industry’s lawsuit was pending, Philip Morris International and British American Tobacco flooded the Brazilian market with flavored cigarettes. A recent study by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found more than 80 percent of tobacco retailers near schools in Rio de Janeiro sold flavored cigarettes with flashy packages and enticing descriptors like “Double Mint Purple” which appeal to young consumers.

Today’s landmark decision should end the sale of flavored tobacco products in Brazil.

The legal tactics employed in Brazil by the major tobacco companies to delay implementation of the ban on flavored tobacco products are part of a global pattern of litigation and intimidation tactics used by tobacco companies to delay and block laws designed to reduce tobacco use. In Brazil, 428 people die every day from tobacco use.

Today’s decision from Brazil’s Supreme Federal Court is the latest in a string of major defeats for the world’s major international tobacco companies like Philip Morris and British American Tobacco. These companies have also suffered recent losses in court and arbitration challenges against tobacco control measures in Colombia, Uruguay, Peru, Australia, the United Kingdom, France, Ireland and the European Union. This ruling should spur countries in Latin America and around the world to stand up to tobacco companies and protect the health of children and young people by passing the measures called for in the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control – including bans on tobacco flavors and additives.