ETHRA’s monthly roundup of news: WHO’s war on safer nicotine products scales up - BECA draft report presentation & ETHRA letter - Clearing up EVALI misinformation - Good news for Italian vapers - Anti-THR measures in Norway. Read on for more.
ETHRA letter to BECA
On 14 July ETHRA and partners wrote to all members of the Special Committee on Beating Cancer (BECA). Our letter was sent in advance of the BECA meeting on 15 July where Rapporteur Véronique Trillet-Lenoir presented her draft report "Strengthening Europe in the fight against cancer – towards a comprehensive and coordinated strategy."
See our article for information on BECA and to read our letter:
Our letter was reported by Sigmagazine (Italian):
BECA Draft report presentation
The European Parliament’s contribution to European Beating Cancer Plan, the BECA Draft report, was presented to BECA members on 15 July. Positive comments from influential MEPs, who advocated for a harm reduction approach, gives great cause for optimism.
Read our report of the meeting here:
MEP support for harm reduction during presentation BECA Draft report
Oneshotmedia provided a French translation of our article:
TPD application report
The European Commission’s report on the application of the TPD was published on 20 May. Indications are that the Commission intends to pursue a precautionary approach with regards to the regulation of vapour products. There is a possibility of restrictions on flavours and open systems, and of including non-nicotine e-liquids (shortfills) under the remit of the TPD.
Read our analysis of the report here:
Parliamentary Questions - SCHEER and tobacco harm reduction
Italian MEPs Pietro Fiocchi, Silvia Sardone, and Aldo Patriciello raised important questions about the Commission’s continued refusal to acknowledge the benefits of tobacco harm reduction.
The answer received from Ms Kyriakides is less than satisfactory and raises further questions about the validity of the risk assessment in the SCHEER report.
WHO report on the global tobacco epidemic 2021: addressing new and emerging products
On Tuesday 27 July, the WHO published their 8th annual report on the global tobacco epidemic. Previous WHO reports and statements have been extremely hostile towards harm reduction but the new report ramps up the rhetoric to new levels, signifying an all out attack on safer nicotine products. The report states that progress has been made in the fight against tobacco, but adds that there is a need to “tackle threats posed by new nicotine and tobacco products.” In an attempt to justify their calls for prohibitionist measures such as flavour bans and all out bans, the report makes unfounded claims that safer nicotine products are a gateway to smoking for youth and that their purpose is to “hook another generation on nicotine.” The WHO’s dangerous position on tobacco harm reduction must be resisted in the strongest possible manner.
Download the report here:
Read the press release here:
Reactions to the WHO report
Early reactions to the report were damning in their assessment. Professor John Britton said: “This report demonstrates that, sadly, the WHO still doesn’t understand the fundamental difference between addiction to tobacco smoking, which kills millions of people every year, and addiction to nicotine, which doesn’t”
Clive Bates, former Director of ASH UK and tobacco control expert had this to say: “You can’t get beyond the opening pages of this dreadful report without encountering activist talking points, false or misleading statements, and really poor policy ideas targeted at vaping and other low-risk alternatives to smoking”
Dave Cross gives an excellent account of the report and expert reactions:
Vaping Post France described it as the “the new report that kills vaping”
Sovape agrees and calls the report an attack on vaping:
A global petition has been launched by voices4vape. The petition calls on the WHO to stop lying about safer nicotine products and to instead provide guidance based on sound scientific facts. The petition is available in multiple languages including French and Spanish.
A small scale study aimed at helping those from disadvantaged groups quit smoking has had promising results. The study gave participants the choice between various forms of NRT, a vape, or a combination of both. Results found that after 6 to 10 weeks 28% of participants had quit smoking and over 18% had significantly cut down on smoking.
Read more at the link:
On July 15th, the 8th Alternative Drugs and Addiction Report was published. Lead author Prof. Heino Stöver described the Federal Government's exorbitant tax on e-liquids as a public health disaster. The report called for a common sense approach towards the regulation and taxation of safer nicotine products and made the following recommendations:
Good news for vapers - the tax on e-liquids will return to 2020 levels after an amendment was approved. Effective from 1 August to 31 December a tax of 0.42 cents on 10ml bottles without nicotine and 0.84 cents for those with nicotine will apply.
Read more at the links:
The Norwegian government is proposing a ban on e-liquid flavours and other anti-THR measures, as amendments to the Tobacco Damage Act. ETHRA partner Nikan says the proposals will take away the attraction of switching from combustible tobacco to vaping. The proposals are now out for consultation and we would encourage consumers to take part. In their article Nikan have shared the results of a survey of 675 vapers, conducted by Helen Berg, to help inform submissions.
See Nikan’s article for details:
The survey report is available here:
The APPG for Vaping has published a report from its inquiry into UK tobacco harm reduction opportunities post Brexit. The report recommends utilising a range of safer nicotine products to achieve smoke free targets, and recognises that the goal should be a reduction in combustible products rather than a reduction in non-combustible products or nicotine use.
Over 200 submissions were received from consumers, including a submission from ETHRA.
ETHRA is mentioned in the report, at page 36:
The report and press release are available at the link:
We were honoured to have the findings of our EU Nicotine User Survey report feature in an article on tobacco harm reduction by Visão. Citing the reasons for consumers' use of vapour products they said, “according to the ETHRA study, 93% of the users of vaporizers surveyed revealed that they chose these products precisely to reduce the harmful effects of smoking and to improve their health.”
Read the article at the link (Portugese):
Euractiv published an excellent article on the presentation of the BECA draft report, outlining the key points in the draft as well as MEP contributions to the discussion that followed. We were delighted have a quote from our analysis of the draft report presentation included in the article:
"EVALI" had nothing to do with nicotine vaping
An outbreak of serious lung injuries in the USA in 2019 caused shockwaves around the world. Despite early reports strongly linking the outbreak to a thickening agent used in illicit THC products for vaping, messaging from public health authorities and academia incorrectly implied legal nicotine vaping products may have played a part. Clive Bates has written a masterful paper examining the cause of the USA lung injuries and discusses why nicotine vaping products could not have played a role.
Read the paper here:
Lots to watch
New Nicotine Alliance
On 25 June the NNA hosted a panel discussion on the future of tobacco harm reduction in the UK. The possibility of diverging from the TPD affords the UK great scope to further maximise the potential of safer nicotine products, including lifting the ban on snus.
The Advocates Voice - The Truth will Prevail
Hosted by CAPHRA on 11 July, this episode of the advocates voice examined the global web of anti-vape junk science and misinformation, and the influence it has on the public perception of safer nicotine products.
This not to be missed episode is available here:
Thursday 15 July saw the first discussion of the Special Committee on Beating Cancer (BECA) draft report, "Strengthening Europe in the fight against cancer towards a comprehensive and coordinated strategy," presented by BECA Rapporteur Véronique Trillet-Lenoir (Renew). The report is the result of months of work involving high-level meetings, public hearings, and exchanges of views with experts. The report provides an overview of areas where the EU can complement and strengthen measures in Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan, with a focus on the key areas of prevention, screening and early diagnosis, high quality treatment, and quality of life of cancer patients and survivors.
The European Parliament’s Special Committee on Beating Cancer (BECA) was set up in September 2020 and is comprised of 63 MEPs, 33 full members and 30 substitutes – the membership list can be found here. The aim of the committee is to examine actions the EU can take to tackle cancer and the effects it has on people’s lives. Responsibilities of the committee include: looking at actions to strengthen the approach at every key stage of the disease: prevention, diagnosis, treatment, life as a cancer survivor and palliative care.
On 20 May 2021, the European Commission published its Report on the application of the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD). The report examines the performance of the TPD and will inform future regulations of safer nicotine products and determine whether or not the current TPD should be revised. The report is mandated by Article 28 of the TPD which states: "No later than five years from 20 May 2016, and whenever necessary thereafter, the Commission shall submit to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions a report on the application of this Directive". See our article “What do we know about the TPD application report” for more details.