Photo by Sagar Patil on Unsplash
It was just a year ago when we launched European Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates yet we have achieved much in that time.
ETHRA is powered by 22 European consumer groups, all dedicated to defending the rights for adults to use safer nicotine products, all signed up to ETHRA’s core principles. Working as a consortium of equal partners, we pool our expertise, our dedication, and our passion, and it has led to spectacular results. Our grouping is a voice for our partners who arrange their own revenue and who give their time to ETHRA for free, as we run it collectively and without funding.
Together we have aimed to amplify the Tobacco Harm Reduction (THR) consumer voice in Europe and highlight our commonalities while still celebrating our differences. We are very honoured to be supported in this endeavour by our Scientific Partners, all experts in the tobacco harm reduction field.
Our first year has exceeded our expectations.
Highlights of ETHRA’s first year
We gained recognition as stakeholders in the TPD review and participated fully in the stakeholder questionnaire process. As a result we produced notes on the subsequent stakeholder interview as a way of contributing an insightful consumer critique of this EU directive which has so much influence over our right to choose, use and enjoy safer alternatives to smoking.
We follow the TPD developments very closely and shine a spotlight on the opaque but critically important review process. Check out our TPD review article for a rundown of what is going into the TPD evaluation. A recent development is that the SCHEER preliminary Opinion has just been published and there is a public consultation which runs for 4 weeks. We will soon publish an article with guidance on how to respond to that. The Opinion is appallingly biased against THR and we simply cannot afford to ignore it.
We published the ETHRA manifesto with the tag #SayYesToTHR in May declaring the rights of safer nicotine users in Europe and on behalf of 27 million consumers. The manifesto was translated into our 16 partner languages - all available for download on our website.
We write to governments and submit to consultations, most recently to explain to the Dutch government why plain packaging for safer products is such a terrible idea.
We regularly publish news articles, to bring national issues to the attention of an international audience. Our most recent is a translation of Sovape’s shocking findings that 75% of French people do not know that vaping is less harmful than smoking. Accurate risk perceptions are fundamental to THR - if consumers do not know that reduced products are safer they will not want to use them. We also recently wrote about Europe’s Beating Cancer plan, urging for the initiative to embrace tobacco harm reduction and so empower smokers to take control of their own health. We submitted to the Cancer Plan public consultation earlier this year.
We sounded the alarm about the proposed flavour bans in Denmark and the Netherlands and galvanised consumers to act. Flavours have emerged as a key battleground; expect many similar fights in the future.
At the height of the COVID restrictions we highlighted just how vulnerable access to safer alternatives to smoking is - people could buy combustible cigarettes everywhere but access to safer alternatives were heavily restricted, or even denied. This must change.
And the future?
We do not intend to relax after our successful first year, but instead to build on it. ETHRA’s Europe wide survey into consumer behaviour is coming soon. The survey will gather the opinions of those affected by possible changes in regulations to reduced risk nicotine products in the European Union. Help us celebrate our birthday by doing the survey and sharing it in your circles.
If you are in a grass roots THR consumer group based in Europe and support ETHRA’s principles, we would love to hear from you. So please get in touch if you are interested in partnering with us.
To finish, we would like to take this opportunity to give a huge thank you to everyone who has supported us and helped to make our first year such a successful one. Let’s make year 2 even better.