EU Urged to Embrace Harm Reduction

    Photo: courtyardpix

    Medical and addiction experts called on the EU to embrace tobacco harm reduction during an event organized by the Centre for Economic and Market Analysis (CETA) in Prague.

    Debating how a tobacco-free generation—where less than 5 percent of EU-citizens use tobacco—can be achieved by 2040, they concluded that the objectives laid out in Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan cannot be attained under current circumstances and that a revised tobacco control policy based on scientific evidence is needed.

    “If the European Commission is serious about its plans to reduce the number of smokers and the impact of smoking, it must start considering the concept of risk reduction in the area of smoking,” said Czech National Drug Coordinator Manager Jindřich Vobořil, in a statement.

    “The Czech Government has committed itself to this approach in its program statement for the upcoming [EU] Presidency. I will also promote it in relation to the ongoing evaluation of the Tobacco Products Directive, which is an effective policy to achieve a real reduction in the number of smokers of conventional cigarettes,” he added.

    “The data show that the abstinence approach is inadequate. The solution for smokers is to switch to less harmful alternatives,” noted Ernest Groman, of the Vienna Nicotine Institute. The only European country close to the 5 percent target is Sweden. According to the experts, the low number of smokers is mainly due to the availability of less harmful alternatives.

    During the event, the CETA published a study ranking EU member states according to their ability to implement the concept of risk reduction. The Czech Republic finished second.

    The Czech government should use the upcoming EU Presidency to undertake a comprehensive review of tobacco dependence policies based on science rather than emotion, according to CETA Research Director Aleš Rod, who also sits on a Czech government advisory board.