ETHRA’s monthly round up of news. The main event is the publication of the long awaited SCHEER Final Opinion. A close second is the urgent need for consumers to respond to the tax consultation, which is still open. Read on for more about those and other news too.
The SCHEER FInal Opinion has been published. Compared to the Preliminary Opinion there has only been minor changes. The main points of the Opinion remain the same. The SCHEER have not just ignored the comments and concerns of consumers, they have also shown a complete disregard for science.
Link to the Final Opinion: Opinion on electronic cigarettes
It is made clear in the final Opinion that “The SCHEER was asked to focus only on health impacts compared to non-smoking.”
According to this, “A document on Results of the public consultation is being finalised”.
EU Tobacco Tax consultation
The EU tobacco tax consultation is now open and it is imperative for consumers to do the questionnaire. Safer nicotine products MUST remain affordable and accessible.
For guidance see our article:
URGENT CALL TO ACTION FOR EU TAX CONSULTATION
Guidance for German speakers:
Konsultation zur EU-Tabaksteuerrichtlinie: Vorsicht Falle!
Clive Bates - Quick take on Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan
Clive Bates discusses Europe's Beating Cancer Plan, and the perverse consequences of not distinguishing between high-risk combustible products and low-risk non-combustible products like vapes, snus, and heated tobacco products.
"By focussing on tobacco use, not smoking, the Commission implicitly rejects the value of switching from high-risk tobacco products like cigarettes to low-risk tobacco products like snus. This is a grave error, but I doubt it was an accident."
Read the interview by Snusforumet:
Beating cancer: Clive Bates on what the EU got wrong about tobacco
Stakeholder Contact Group on Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan
The Commission issued a call for participants in the Stakeholder Contact Group on the implementation of Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan. This initiative offers an excellent opportunity to be directly involved and contribute to discussions around the implementation of EBCP.
Those wishing to participate must first be registered on the EU Transparency register
Then register on the EU Health Policy Platform
Special Committee on Beating Cancer (BECA) consultation
The report on the BECA Consultation on COVID-19 has been published. In total 33 submissions were received, 3 of those came from consumer associations. Consumer concerns over access to low-risk products during the pandemic have been included in the synopsis report.
BECA Public consultation Synopsis Report
Read ETHRA’s submission here
Italian MEPs show their support for THR - Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan
MEP Pietro Fiocchi, who is a member of the Special Committee on Beating Cancer (BECA), has been an outspoken supporter of tobacco harm reduction for a long time. MEP Fiocchi sees the great harm reduction potential of safer nicotine products and has said that those who smoke should be encouraged to make the switch. In an interview he said:
“I do not agree that the Commission often prefers to adopt ideological rather than pragmatic and realistic approaches. Such an approach could prevent millions of smokers from quitting and thus putting them at risk of cancer.”
MEP Aldo Patriciello, also a member of BECA, has voiced his support for tobacco harm reduction. The Italian MEP met with a delegation from consumer association ANPVU to discuss Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan. Patriciello said he is aware of the potential of low-risk products in the fight against cancer:
“The Commission needs to be more progressive in its thinking. Harm reduction strategies, such as vaping, could lead to achieving a smoke-free Europe more quickly.”
Read more at these links:
“Farò di tutto affinché l’Unione europea non metta al bando le sigarette elettroniche”
WHO technical manual on tobacco tax administration
The WHO have published an updated version of their 2010 manual on tobacco tax policy and administration. Recommendations include taxing heated tobacco products at the same rate as combustible products, and taxing both nicotine and non-nicotine containing e-liquids “in a manner that discourages uptake by youth and non-users.” The WHO continues to show a complete disregard for those who smoke and could benefit from switching to low-risk safer nicotine products.
Download the full report:
WHO technical manual on tobacco tax policy and administration
Also see Daniel Hagemeister-Biernath article on this:
The Danish government has proposed a bill to tax nicotine containing e-liquids. This is another huge blow to vapers in Denmark as the tax will almost double the price of e-liquids. Showing a complete lack of understanding of the concept of tobacco harm reduction, Minister of Taxation Morten Bødskov said of the proposal: “Hopefully, those who smoke e-cigarettes then choose the liquid with a low nicotine content.”
More news from Denmark: we learned from DADAFO that on 29 April the health minister, Magnus Heunicke was due to appear before the Danish Parliament's Health Committee to answer questions about why it was so important to introduce further restrictions on smoking and safer alternatives when the number of smokers from 2018 to 2019 had already dropped. The latest smoking statistics had not been shared while the legislation was being debated (link).
The Estonian Parliament has suspended excise duty on e-liquids until 31 December 2022. The move is in response to the flourishing black market that developed due to excessive taxation and flavour bans. Ingmar Kurg, CEO of NNA Smoke Free Estonia, said: “Estonia's example with over-taxation of e-liquids should definitely be an educational experience for other countries as well. If laboratory-tested and legal products are made too expensive for consumers, they will look for solutions in the black market, self-mixing and cross-border trade.”
The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health (STM) is proposing amendments to the Tobacco Act. These include plain packaging for vaping products and the inclusion of vaping in outdoor smoking bans.
Dr. Gero Clemens Hocker, FDR member of the Bundestag, raised a very important question in relation to the excessive taxation of e-liquids that are proposed in the Tobacco Tax Modernization Act: "Why does the draft law for the modernization of tobacco tax law passed by the Federal Cabinet ignore the concept of tobacco harm reduction”
eGarage has reported that the Economic Committee has recommended that the Federal Council take into consideration the negative consequences of the proposed tax on e-liquids.
Link to the document (in German): https://bit.ly/3xiqfqi
An extra layer of bureaucracy has resulted in a shortage of e-liquids in Germany, according to nebelkrähe. A law passed in July 2020 has come into force that requires all liquids that can be used for vaping, including nicotine-free and flavour concentrates, to include an instructional leaflet.
Ireland and the UK are close neighbours, but public health attitudes towards tobacco harm reduction couldn’t be further apart. The UK produces some of the most comprehensive and up to date research on vaping and encourages those who smoke to make the switch. In Ireland, what passes for research is asking a group of 72 teens their thoughts on vaping [from 2017]. Indications are that Irish authorities are considering limiting flavours and other anti-THR policies in order to ‘protect youth’
Spokesperson for the Tobacco Harm Reduction Platform, Dr Fernandez Bueno, appeared at the Health Commission of the Extremadura Assembly to discuss the White Paper on Tobacco Harm Reduction, and propose the creation of a working group within this Commission.
APPG COP Inquiry report
Over the last number of months the UK’s All-Party Parliamentary Group on Vaping ran an inquiry into the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Conference of the Parties 9 (FCTC COP9). COP9 is a secretive meeting where delegates from the 182 countries that are signatories to the FCTC gather to discuss tobacco control plans for the coming years. It is held under a media blackout and those with opposing views to the WHO’s prohibitionist stance on tobacco harm reduction are banned.
The UK’s world leading approach to tobacco harm reduction is in stark contrast to that of the WHO. Mark Pawsey, Chair of the APPG, said: “One of the founding pillars of the Treaty the UK signed up to nearly 20 years ago was that of harm reduction. If the WHO are opposed to adhering to this and continue to pursue an agenda-driven approach to ban less harmful alternatives to smoking, then the UK should consider dramatically scaling back our funding.”
The main recommendations from the report are:
All-Party Parliamentary Group on Vaping COP9 Inquiry Report
Download the report and press release:
Submit to new APPG on Vaping inquiry
The APPG has just launched a new inquiry into the future of tobacco harm reduction policies in the UK. Read more and submit evidence here:
*The deadline for submissions is 27 May*
European Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates
We were delighted to feature in a recent article by Dave Cross, who wrote: “Pushing for common sense on the international stage is the European Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates (ETHRA) consumer group, consisting of individual champions from across the continent.” The article features the ETHRA Manifesto and details some of the initiatives, consultations and actions we have been involved in.
Read the full article here:
Two articles examining the effects of safer nicotine products on smoking in the EU have featured quotes from our article on the Eurobarometer report.
Malaysian digital media company The Rakyat Post writes that: “The European Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates (ETHRA) consumer group, believes that vaping serves public health benefits by giving cigarette smokers a safer alternative to smoking and that misinformation is getting in the way of those who want to quit.”
Ecigclick highlighted the significant impact safer nicotine products are having on smoking rates: “The numbers don’t lie and show a whopping 121% increase in the number of smokers making the switch to safer nicotine products such as e-cigarettes and SNUS.”
HUGE Fall In Smoking Rates Across UK and Europe
Something to watch:
Italian consumer association ANPVU interviewed renowned researcher and cardiologist Dr Konstantinos Farsalinos. In this in depth discussion Dr Farslinos talks about his research on safer nicotine products, what we know about nicotine, and the dangers of junk science.
Video in English with Italian subtitles: Intervista esclusiva al Dott. Konstantinos Farsalinos.
Professor Brad Rodu, Endowed Chair of Tobacco Harm Reduction Research, University of Louisville, has been researching safer nicotine products for decades. In this short clip he talks about the Swedish experience with snus.