Tobacco harm reduction activists have expressed concern about new measures proposed in the European Union’s recently published Beating Cancer Plan. According to the European Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates (ETHRA), the measures would make low-risk products such as e-cigarettes and smoke-free tobacco products less effective and attractive as alternatives to combustible cigarettes.
According to the ETHRA, the plan fails to make a distinction between harmful smoking products and smoke-free alternatives, and signals that the European Commission intends to turn its back on innovation and science by cracking down on vaping.
“The effect would be to protect the tobacco industry, reduce the number of Europeans quitting smoking by switching to low-risk alternatives, and add to the overall burden of cancer—exactly the opposite of the aim of Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan,” the ETHRA wrote in a letter to the European Parliament members on the Special Committee on Beating Cancer.
The ETHRA also expressed concern about plans to ban nontobacco flavors for e-liquids. “Such an approach is one step short of outright prohibition,” the organization wrote. “It will trigger a range of undesirable reactions among both vapers and smokers—including relapse to smoking among vapers, reduced switching among smokers, increased illicit activity and cross-border trade, workarounds, more home mixing, and the formation of informal, unregulated markets.”
According to the EHTRA, other proposed measured, such as taxes, public vaping bans and plain packaging would provide further regulatory protection of the cigarette category. “The plan fails to recognize the interaction between smoking and vaping and is naïve about the perverse consequence of the regulatory intervention,” the ETHRA wrote.
The Independent European Vape Alliance (IEVA), meanwhile, welcomed the EU Beating Cancer Plan but urged regulators to use all means at hand to minimize smoking rates.
“We welcome the EU Beating Cancer Plan,” said IEVA Chairman Dustin Dahlmann in a statement. “The strategy needs to consider all means available to reduce the burden of cancer related risks: It is of utmost importance that preventive measures are flanked by tobacco harm reduction. Otherwise, millions of smokers might miss the opportunity to tremendously reduce their risk of cancer.”