THE WITHDRAWAL of nine cigarette brands from the Portuguese market has been ordered by the food and economic security (ASAE) after claims that they contain illegal levels of tar and carbon monoxide.
ASAE spokesman Manuel Lajes released a statement revealing that the decision for the withdrawal was based on results of an annual laboratory analysis carried out by the Direcção Geral de Saúde (DGS).
The DGS analysed the nicotine, tar and carbon monoxide content of over 30 tobacco companies and the results showed that two UK companies were in violation of Portuguese tobacco law, The Gallaher Group and British American Tobacco (BAT).
Even though the tar and carbon monoxide levels stated on the cigarette packaging were within the limits imposed by Portuguese legislation, the independent study revealed them to be higher.
The ASAE announced that it had ordered the removal of the brands from shops, vending machines and warehouses across Portugal from January 15, after the laboratory tests results were made official.
The nine brands affected are Benson and Hedges, Sovereign, Mayfair, Berkeley, Sterling and Corona (produced by the Gallaher Group PLC), and Dunhill, Rothman’s Royals and Golden American (produced by the British American Tobacco PLC).
Lajes did not know how many cigarettes of those brands were on sale in Portugal and therefore how many would have to be withdrawn.
The ASAE intends to open proceedings against the manufacturers, who face fines of between 30,000-44,000 euros if convicted.
BAT told The Resident: “Recent media coverage has claimed that some tobacco brands currently in the market have exceeded the maximum levels of tar and carbon monoxide. We would like to make it clear that, contrary to these reports, the three British American tobacco brands referred to – Golden American, Dunhill and Royals – all fully comply with accepted levels of tolerance. There is therefore no reason why these products should be recalled.”
It seems that these withdrawals have not affected the Algarve as of yet. Local tobacconists are still selling the brands in question.
One local vendor said: “I have not been contacted by anyone about the accused brands. I expect they will get in touch towards the end of the month.”
Another tobacconist revealed he was not worried about any damaging impact the recall would have on his business saying: “The majority of tobacconists only sell a few of the brands in question and make much more out of the Portuguese brands.”
The efforts of the ASAE removal operation will form three stages. The initial stage will involve stopping imports of the accused brands into Portugal. Inspectors will then order wholesalers to recall the brands and order the distribution companies to take part in the removal process at their own cost.
Finally, the points of sale will be contacted. This means that most vendors in the Algarve will still be selling the brands they have in stock until the ASAE officials make inspection visits.
It is likely the brands will begin to disappear from shelves early in February.
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