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EU health strategy fails on tobacco harm reduction, vapers say

December 3, 2022

Members of the World Vapers’ Alliance delivering petition signatures to the European Parliament in Brussels

Consumer body World Vapers’ Alliance (WVA) said the a new health strategy by the EU Commission fails to tackle smoking, one of the leading causes of ill health.

The EU Commission announced this week its ‘Global Health Strategy’, saying the new guiding principle will be to “prioritise tackling the root causes of ill health”. The WVA said tobacco harm reduction must be included in such a strategy to combat smoking-induced illnesses.

“The EU Commission is ignoring science and consumer voices again. Tobacco harm reduction must become a key element of all health policies for the EU,” Michael Landl, director of the WVA, commented.

“Seven hundred thousand people die each year due to smoking, and at the same time, the Commission fights against less harmful alternatives. The science is clear: vaping is far less harmful than smoking and is one of the most effective smoking cessation aids. Consumers demand that the Commission finally accept this reality.”

The WVA delivered a petition signed by more than 4,000 EU citizens to the Members of Parliament and voiced their concerns about the negative attitude towards vaping within EU institutions. The petition asked the EU to embrace tobacco harm reduction and refrain from flavour bans and higher taxation.

Commenting on the strategy, Giannia Gancia, Member of the European Parliament from Italy, also urged the executive to support tobacco harm reduction alternatives.

“The Commission’s goal is to ensure a high level of health protection but fails to deliver practical solutions,” she said.

“A health strategy without tobacco harm reduction is likely to fail right from the beginning. The Commission must focus on solutions which benefit public health by embracing harm reduction alternatives such as vaping and snus and refrain from encouraging the growth of the black market.”

The WVA has also voiced their concerns about the EU Commission’s leaked plan to increase taxation on vaping products and fear negative consequences for public health. The EU Commission plans to “bring the taxation of novel smoking products, such as vapes and heated tobacco, into line with cigarettes,” according to a Financial Times report.

“The Commission claims that higher taxes will improve public health, but the reality is the exact opposite. A less harmful alternative, such as vaping, must be affordable for ordinary smokers trying to quit cigarettes. The Global Health Strategy is a missed opportunity to make the EU a tobacco harm reduction leader and the leaked tax plan proves this further,” added Landl.

The WVA has urges the EU Commission and member states to “follow scientific evidence and abstain from higher taxation” of vaping products, and embrace tobacco harm reduction instead.

“Rather than fighting vaping, the EU finally must embrace tobacco harm reduction. What we need is risk-based regulation. Vaping is 95 per cent less harmful than smoking and, therefore, must not be treated the same way as conventional smoking,” Landl said.