Press release

Europe-wide consumer organisation launches manifesto on behalf of millions of former smokers

  • European Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates (ETHRA) – comprised of 21 consumer associations in 16 European countries – today launches a manifesto declaring the rights of safer nicotine users in Europe
  • The manifesto is on behalf of 27 million grass roots consumers across Europe who have quit smoking using safer products such as e-cigarettes and snus
  • The ETHRA Manifesto calls on policymakers to recognise the benefits of tobacco harm reduction in advance of World No Tobacco Day

DUBLIN, May 26th, 2020: Reduced risk products such as e-cigarettes and snus are providing a gateway out of smoking for millions of Europeans, yet across the continent, consumer access to these products is being denied or is under threat. Today sees the launch of the ETHRA Manifesto, a document written by consumers to promote appropriate regulation of innovative solutions for people who wish to continue using nicotine in far safer forms than smoking tobacco, as well as on behalf of the many smokers who may be able to quit through switching to these products in the future.

Tobacco harm reduction refers to public health and other evidence-based policies, designed to lessen the negative social and/or physical consequences associated with smoking. It endorses the use of novel nicotine products and supports research into their safety and efficacy.

The 21 partners of ETHRA – representing millions of consumers in 16 countries – urge the EU, the WHO, and governments in Europe and beyond to consider these important principles when forming their policies.

  1. Access to harm reduction, including tobacco harm reduction, must be recognised as a human right.

  2. Consumers of safer nicotine products must be recognised as essential stakeholders in discussions of policy.

  3. Regulation for safer nicotine products must reflect the risks relative to the risks from smoking.

  4. Regulators must recognise that having a wide choice of products and flavours is key to the success of safer nicotine products in enabling people to stop smoking.

  5. Regulation must consider the harm to adults when considering bans intended to protect youth.

  6. Tax policy must take into account that high taxation of safer nicotine products increases rates of smoking.

Tobacco harm reduction is facing challenging times in Europe, as the review of the EU Tobacco Products Directive is already underway and the WHO’s Conference of the Parties will be held in the Netherlands next year. Consumers fear that both organisations are seeking to implement policies which would severely damage the progress of safer nicotine products which have had such a dramatic beneficial impact on the lives of millions of Europeans.

ETHRA is concerned that policies towards prohibiting flavours in reduced risk products, restricting publicity of far safer alternatives to combustible tobacco - and many more legislative burdens on smoking substitutes - are being considered by policymakers based on nothing but ill-informed ideology and cherry-picked research.

“Regulators should be aware of the overwhelmingly beneficial effect of reduced risk nicotine products to attract smokers away from lit tobacco” said Rob de Lange of ACVODA, a Dutch consumer association and partner of ETHRA, “Smoking rates in countries which regulate alternative nicotine products sensibly have collapsed, yet consumers are constantly fighting against public health organisations who seem to favour an ill-informed precautionary approach which can only perpetuate smoking and protect the most harmful nicotine delivery system of all, the cigarette”.

Peter Stigaard, of Danish consumer association DADAFO said “Tobacco harm reduction has been an unprecedented success story in enlightened European states, yet the EU and the WHO appear eager to wind back the clock and impose harsh and ill-conceived restrictions on products which are saving lives.”.


Issued on behalf of European Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates

Note to Editors: ETHRA has been formed to increase understanding about the benefits of “new” risk-reduced nicotine products and a better recognition of long-term recreational use of nicotine as a powerful incentive for smoking cessation. ETHRA aims to represent the interests of nicotine consumers across Europe and to spread the word into states which are still sceptical about the benefits of harm reduction.

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Estimate of 27 million consumers provided by ECigIntelligence/TobaccoIntelligence
The actual figure is likely to be far higher because the data for smokeless tobacco is taken from research (Leon et al 2016) using data gathered in 2010 in only 17 countries.

ETHRA manifesto, available in 14 languages

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