In this guest post ETHRA partner Sovape writes on the adoption of the Subcommittee on Public Health report on non-communicable diseases by the ENVI Committee in the European Parliament. The original article, in French, is available here.
The ENVI Committee of the European Parliament has voted on a report on non-communicable diseases, recognising the role of vaping in smoking cessation and making harm reduction a pillar of public health policies. SOVAPE welcomes this progress while remaining vigilant about certain ambiguous points.
On November 8, 2023, Members of the European Parliament in the ENVI Committee (Environment, Public Health and Food Safety) adopted a Report1 aimed at preventing and reducing the prevalence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the European Union (EU).
Addressing numerous serious health conditions, including cancers, cardiovascular disease, and respiratory diseases, for which smoking is a major risk factor. The report proposes various measures to combat NCDs, with a focus on harm reduction as a pillar of public health policies. It represents a strong and welcome shift toward harm reduction by the European Parliament, as demonstrated by:
- The significant importance of policies integrating harm reduction to reduce the prevalence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs);
- The role of vaping in smoking cessation;
- The significance of science, evidence-based data, and sharing best practices in the development of public health policies.
If the current wording remains for the plenary session (vote expected on December 112), then the European Parliament would send a signal for the consideration of harm reduction in health policy. Thus, the European Commission would find it difficult to ignore the principle of harm reduction in the development of the revision of the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD)3, which regulates vaping products.
There are other factors in the text which will impact vaping that we must pay close attention to: support for a revision of the directive on tobacco taxes (TED) without public debates, which is strange from a democratic perspective and concerning for harm reduction products 4; the demand for the "full implementation" of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) of the World Health Organization (WHO), without a debate on the European role in its orientation5.
We should also consider the influence of various lobbying groups.6
- Sub-Committee on Public Health Report on NCDs Final Compromise Amendments
- MEPs call for a holistic and integrated EU strategy on non-communicable diseases
- SOVAPE appelle la Commission à respecter la réduction des risques / SOVAPE calls on the Commission to respect harm reduction
- Rapport sur l’EU NICOTINE USERS SURVEY 2020 : l’essor de la réduction des risques / EU NICOTINE USERS SURVEY 2020 report: the rise of harm reduction
- Réduction des risques : Lettre ouverte au Haut-commissaire des Nations Unies aux droits humains / Harm reduction: Open letter to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
- Menaces de l’OMS sur le vapotage, quatre associations lancent l’alerte / WHO threats to vaping, four associations sound the alarm
ETHRA’s monthly roundup of news: UK Consultation Call to Action - EU Smoke & Mirrors - Consumers Plea to UN for Health-Centered Strategies at COP10 - Ireland to ban flavours? - ETHRA Memo to Tobacco Control - Copwatch: Keeping Consumers in the Loop on COP10 Developments - EU Commission Critique Sparks Joint Declaration - Country updates. Read on for more
EU bureaucrats plotting to use WHO treaty to sideline European Parliament on tobacco harm reduction
Leaked documents show that the bureaucrats of the European Commission and European Council are secretively working together to use the WHO tobacco treaty to bounce the European Parliament and their own legislatures into hostile positions on vapes, pouches and heated tobacco products
Leaked document reveals plans to ban nicotine pouches
The European Commission wants to extend the ban on snus to include nicotine pouches, according to a leaked report which was made public by Swedish MEP Charlie Weimers in a post on X. The report, which was sent to member states ahead of a validation workshop on tobacco control policy, states that the snus ban has been successful and should be extended.
Transparency and accountability of EU funding for NGOs
A report prepared for the Committee on Budgetary Control has called for greater transparency around EU funded NGOs, with full disclosure of all funding received and its purposes over a number of years to allow assessment of their independence.
Parliamentary Question on nicotine pouches
Spanish MEP Nicolás González Casares tabled a PQ regarding the regulation of nicotine pouches and a “nicotine-addicted generation”. The MEP clearly favours a ban on this low-risk alternative to smoking and states that “flavourings are added to them and they are cheaper than cigarettes, [which] means that they pose a particular risk to the health of younger generations”. He also seems to suggest that tobacco/smoke free targets should mean nicotine free.
Answer given by Ms Kyriakides on behalf of the European Commission
The written response by the Commission is far from satisfactory as it describes pouches as a serious public health concern and a challenge to the internal market.
See the reply here:
Consumer letter to the UN
In an open letter addressed to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, 52 civil society organisations highlight the urgency of adopting strategies based on harm reduction and the right to health at COP10.
Read more here:
Open Letter to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
Copwatch has published a series of articles aimed at informing consumers about the latest developments ahead of COP10 in Panama at the end of November. These include:
Keep an eye on https://copwatch.info/ for more - #COP10 will take place in Panama from 20 - 25 November
Belgium recently launched its Strategy for a Tobacco Free Generation.The Strategy contains a range of measures to tackle smoking but also, disappointingly, takes aim at safer nicotine products. Measures include the implementation of the ban on nicotine pouches, a ban on disposable vapes, and regulation of new nicotine products. The Strategy has come in for criticism from tobacco specialist Stefaan Hendrickx who said “The plan puts the e-cigarette in many ways on par with the cigarette that is being smoked and burned. It focuses too little on the opportunities of the e-cigarette for smokers".
See more here:
More from Belgium
The Belgian Government is to introduce an excise duty that not only covers nicotine and non-nicotine containing e-liquids but also the base ingredients used to make e-liquids such as propylene glycol, vegetable glycerine, boosters, and flavourings (concentrates and pre-mixed).
Finnish authorities have been warned that bringing nicotine pouches under the remit of the Tobacco Act, which would add 40 - 50% to the price of a box, will inevitably lead to an increase in smuggling from Sweden.
The 6th conference of the Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences - Institute for Addiction Research was held on October 18. The theme of the conference was the role of tobacco harm reduction in smoking cessation. Topics discussed included vape flavours, nicotine pouches, disposable vapes, and tobacco control in the UK and New Zealand.
Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly announced that a consultation on vape flavours and packaging will be launched on 7 November. However, no details on the consultation are available at the moment.
Tobacco taxation is to be extended to include nicotine-free vapes and e-liquid according to State Budget proposals.
ETHRA partner Anesvap issued a position paper for delegates attending COP10. They call on the WHO to listen to vapers as we are the evidence that #THRworks, and to support tobacco harm reduction as a means to reduce the burden on health from smoking.
Download the paper here (Spanish & English):
COP10 Panamá:Una oportunidad única para apoyar el vapeo como solución frente al tabaco por combustión / A unique opportunity to support vaping as a solution to combustion tobacco
On Thursday 12 October the UK Government launched a consultation on actions to tackle smoking and youth vaping. The main proposal to tackle smoking is to introduce a generational ban in order to purchase combustible tobacco. However, it is the proposed actions to address youth vaping that are a serious cause for concern for adult vapers. NNA UK summarised the main threats below. The consultation runs until 6 December and we urge all consumers of safer nicotine products to participate as the results could have far reaching implications.
Read the NNA UK brief on the consultation:
Clive Bates shares his draft response for information to encourage and help other respondents:
James Dunworth does a deep dive into the consultation and what it means for vapers:
Ecigclick have provided a useful guide on responding to the consultation:
The UK Government consultation page is here:
Memo: Tobacco acquis evaluation validation workshop
Following a validation workshop on the evaluation of the legislative framework for tobacco control ETHRA wrote to the consultants, Open Evidence, to provide them with a summary of the main points we raised during the workshop. We also provided them with additional evidence which complemented and reinforced the points we raised. Consumers are the most significant stakeholders in this conversation and our voices must be heard.
UK smoking and vaping policy consultation – my draft response
The UK Government is consulting on proposals for a smoke-free generation and actions intended to address youth vaping, which include potential bans on flavours and a ban on disposable vapes. Clive Bates shares his draft response to encourage and help others make their submissions.
Read the draft response here:
Delegates to COP10 criticise the European Commission
According to press reports, the delegations of 7 EU countries at COP10 have signed a joint declaration to complain about the European Commission's departure from consolidated practices and the marginalisation of member states.
Patterns of flavoured e-cigarette use among adult vapers
A new study examines patterns of vape flavour use in a large sample of US vapers. The paper finds that fruit and sweet flavours were the most popular choices at the time of smoking cessation.
WHO strategies against smoking currently insufficient—ITS paper
The Institute for Tobacco Studies (ITS) in Sweden has published a paper calling on the World Health Organization (WHO) to consider Sweden's success in reducing smoking-related deaths.
Something to watch:
Australian experts in tobacco and nicotine science & policy review the scientific evidence on nicotine vaping to help guide evidence-based policymaking. Dr Colin Mendelsohn presents the main findings.
See the full report here:
ATHS- 2023 Public social debate #1 VF: Vaping
Dr Marion Adler discusses vaping as a harm reduction tool for smoking cessation (French).
On 6 October ETHRA and partners Aiduce and Sovape participated in a validation workshop organised by Open Evidence. Open Evidence is one of three contractors which won a tender for the Single Framework Contract for Support Actions in the Field of Tobacco Control, read more about the tender and contract here. They were tasked with conducting a number of consultations into the evaluation of the legislative framework for tobacco control and producing a report for the European Commission, the report is expected early next year and may or may not be made public. Our contributions to the consultations can be found here. The report and any recommendations made will very likely feed into the next TPD which is due late next year.
Last Wednesday, 11 October, ETHRA wrote to Open Evidence to provide them with a summary of the main points we raised during the workshop and we included additional evidence which complements and reinforces the points we raised. Consumers are the most significant stakeholders in this conversation and our voices must be heard. Our letter is below.
ETHRA’s monthly roundup of news: EU COP10 position & ETHRA letter - Alternative reading list for #COP10 delegates - Gateway myth busted - Flavour bans increase smoking - Expert advice for COP10 delegates - Belgium bans pouches - Country updates. Read on for more