Anti-smoking groups and pharmaceutical company Pfizer are urging the next Dutch government to extend smoking bans and restrict tobacco alternatives such as e-cigarettes, reports Dutch News.
The outgoing government has increased cigarette prices and limited sales outlets as steps toward a smoke-free generation by 2040, and the number of smokers has gone down from 25 percent to 20 percent in the last five years.
However, even though there are fewer smokers, the total amount of tobacco being consumed has remained stable. “The remaining smokers are smoking more,” campaigner Wanda de Kanter told Financieele Dagblad.
De Kanter is skeptical about Philip Morris International’s attempts to market its IQOS tobacco-heating device as a less risky alternative to smoking. The multinational is trying to persuade the Dutch government to relax rules around such products. Health institute RIVM has stated that heated-tobacco still contains cancer-causing substances and can damage lung cells.
The U.K. Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA) warned that cracking down on smoking alternatives would be counterproductive.
“To further reduce smoking rates in the Netherlands, legislators should be embracing alternative tobacco products, such as vaping—not introducing stricter regulations, which will only serve to facilitate tobacco consumption,” the group wrote in a press note. “Adopting an evidence-based approach, like that which has been successful in the United Kingdom, will help cement the concept of tobacco harm reduction.”
“I am concerned about these reports, especially in light of the global World Health Organization’s COP9 summit, which takes place in the Netherlands in November 2021,” said UKVIA Director-General John Dunne.
“Smoking-related illness still kills many thousands of people each year in both the U.K. and the Netherlands. It is imperative on both governments to do all that they can to reduce this number of smoking-related deaths. They should trust the science and the overwhelming evidence and embrace vaping products and e-cigarettes. They are the most popular and effective nicotine-replacement products on the market.”