ETHRA’s monthly roundup of news, from a very busy month. Headline news - publication of the TPD implementation report - the Dutch caretaker government rams through a vaping flavour ban - WHO announces that COP9 will be online - EU tax consultation ending soon - UK’s Royal College of Physicians’ new report seeks to further integrate vaping into UK health policy. Read on for more about those and much more.
Submit to the EU tax consultation by 22 June
The EU tobacco tax consultation closes soon.
Please make time to do the questionnaire
Consumers know best that safer nicotine products MUST remain affordable and accessible and it is really important for us to give our views to this.
For guidance see our article:
URGENT CALL TO ACTION FOR EU TAX CONSULTATION
TPD implementation report
The report into the implementation of the TPD was published on 20 May. The report examines the performance of the TPD and will inform future regulations of safer nicotine products. The highly contestable statement that e-cigarettes are increasingly popular among young people is stated early on in the report, which is a bad sign. The report shows that the Commission intends to keep misapplying the precautionary principle:
“As scientific consensus has yet to be reached, the precautionary principle prevails and the TPD takes a careful approach in regulating these products”.
It goes on to say that flavours can influence youth initiation, but does not take a clear position on an EU wide flavour ban. It is worrying that the report says that the Commission will base its risk assessment on the highly controversial SCHEER Opinion. The serious flaws in the SCHEER Opinion are highlighted later in this news roundup.
The report is available in all official EU languages at this link:
Read the report in English here:
Do read Planet of the Vapes’ article on the report here:
Europe’s TPD Update
SCHEER Final Opinion
On 29 April, the SCHEER published its Final Opinion on e-cigarettes. The criticisms of the unscientific nature of the Preliminary Opinion, made in thousands of submissions to the public consultation, have not been addressed. The fatal flaw of the Opinion stems from the mandate, where the SCHEER was specifically asked to focus only on health impacts compared to non-smoking and not to smoking. The result is that the SCHEER has produced a document which is useless to policymakers who wish to reduce the smoking burden by taking a balanced approach to safer nicotine products.
Read ETHRA’s view on the SCHEER Opinion:
MEPs say that requests to examine harm reduction were ignored. Questions were also asked regarding the findings of the Opinion that are contrary to EU studies:
Egarage points out that the SCHEER were specifically told to focus only on health impacts compared to non-smoking:
Italian consumer association ANPVU are disappointed and bewildered by the findings of the Opinion:
Planet of the Vapes provides a synopsis of views on the Opinion from consumer associations, trade groups and experts:
Sign and share Change the EU Government's attitude towards e-cigarettes
EU Parliamentary Questions on snus
Sara Skyttedal MEP raised important questions on the continued ban on the sale of snus in the EU. Snus use in Sweden has resulted in Sweden having the lowest smoking prevalence in Europe, lower levels of cancer, and tobacco related deaths are less than half the EU average. Lifting this unjustified ban would be a positive move in fighting cancer in Europe.
Read the Parliamentary Question:
Read Ms Kyriakides, answer, made on behalf of the European Commission:
WHO study group on tobacco product regulation
The 8th report of the WHO Study Group has been published. The press release states:
“This report of the WHO Study Group on Tobacco Product Regulation provides the Director-General with scientifically sound, evidence-based recommendations for Member States about tobacco product regulation.”
However, a look through the section that deals with e-cigarettes (pages 151 - 165) suggests that this report is anything but scientifically sound or evidence based. The recommendations that open systems should be banned, and e-cigarettes should be prevented from competing with cigarettes, are extremely misguided:
Download the report here:
WHO study group on tobacco product regulation: Report on the scientific basis of tobacco product regulation: eighth report of a WHO study group
The World Health Organisation has announced that the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Conference of the Parties 9 (FCTC COP9), due to be held in the Netherlands in November, will now be held virtually. As the conference will be streamed live there is no justification for the WHO to maintain the levels of secrecy that surrounded previous events. Sessions should be made available for the general public as decisions made during COP9 will directly affect our lives. A virtual conference also offers an opportunity for countries to expand their delegations to include consumers and tobacco harm reduction experts.
Consumers need to grasp this opportunity - contact government officials and make sure your views are being represented.
Read the announcement here:
World No Tobacco Day
David Abrams, Clive Bates, Ray Niaura and David Sweanor wrote a detailed critique of the WHO’s World No Tobacco Day press release. The letter was sent to Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General WHO, urging a reassessment of its tobacco and nicotine policy.
Read the letter and comments on tobacco harm reduction from expert stakeholders, including consumers:
WHO has gone rogue on tobacco policy - millions at risk from tired dogma and a refusal to grasp innovation
World Vape Day
On 30 May people from all over the world joined together on social media to celebrate the vape using the hashtags #WVD21 #WorldVapeDay
Raising questions about the vaping tax bill Kenneth Mikkelsen MP asked the tax minister whether or not there is evidence to suggest that a tax on vaping will deter youth uptake. He followed up by asking the minister his thoughts on the Norwegian proposal that applies risk proportionate taxation on e-liquids.
Read the vaping tax bill:
Questions from Kenneth Mikkelsen MP:
A draft bill for a new Tobacco Act has been published. The bill proposes plain packaging for cigarettes, which would also extend to vape devices and bottle labels. It also includes a range of bizarre proposals that would apply to vapour products. Refill bottles should be colourless, bottle caps should be transparent, white or black, and bottle nozzles should be the same colour as the bottle or cap.
Read the draft bill (in Finnish) here:
The French National Cancer Institute has launched a new awareness campaign on the dangers of smoking. Unlike many EU countries they are taking an enlightened approach towards tobacco harm reduction, and have said that vaping can help with smoking cessation.
Tax proposals which would make vaping more expensive than smoking are progressing through parliamentary and committee hearings. Submitting questions to the federal government, Stefan Schmidt (MP Green Party) asked if any consideration had been given to the impacts the tax would have on businesses. FDP also raised questions about the serious criticism that have been leveled against the Tobacco Tax Modernization draft bill
Ch-lippmann.de is giving updates from the public and expert hearings, and contributions from the Finance Committee hearings:
A bill banning flavours in e-liquid has been forced through parliament, and will take effect from 1 July 2022. The rationale for the ban is the protection of youth, despite youth vaping being very low. No consideration has been given to the 400000 people who use flavours to quit smoking and remain smoke free. In July last year ETHRA wrote to Health Secretary Blokhuis to protest against the proposed flavour ban.
Consumer association Acvoda are calling on consumers to urgently write to political parties and let them know the devastation effects a flavour ban will have.
Information and links can be found here: https://www.smaaknoodzaak.nl/
Use #smaaknoodzaak (flavours are necessary) in your social media posts
The Swedish government has proposed an e-liquid flavour ban. Member of Parliament David Josefsson believes the government’s attitude is problematic, as he recognises the potential of safer nicotine products:
"If less harmful ways of using nicotine than smoking are developed, then we really should not counteract them”
More from Sweden
Thanks to the phenomenal success of snus as a substitute for smoking, Sweden is on track to becoming the world's first smoke free country. A report produced for the Snus Commission, a group of independent experts, found that only 5% of the population smoke. This is a huge success for public health and is a strong message to the EU that the ban on snus should be reversed.
The UK continues to lead the way in tobacco harm reduction. In a new trial to help smokers quit, patients visiting hospital Accident and Emergency departments will be offered free vapes, e-liquid supplies for a week, and referral to local smoking-cessation services.
Read more here:
More from the UK
A followup to the Royal College of Physicians landmark 2016 report, Nicotine Without Smoke, has been published. Smoking and health 2021: A coming of age for tobacco control? provides a comprehensive account of all aspects of tobacco use in the UK, and makes recommendations that will advance the UK’s progress towards smoke free status. The report looks very favourably on vapour products, which is to be welcomed, however the phrase ‘non-tobacco nicotine’ is used throughout the report when talking about low-risk products. This type of language is confusing because snus and heated tobacco products contain tobacco but are also low-risk alternatives to smoking.
- Mass media campaigns to support the use of vaping products as a quitting aid or substitute for smoking, and redress false perceptions about the safety of vaping compared with cigarettes.
- Health warnings on e-cigarette packs (sic) should include a statement that e-cigarette vapour is likely to be substantially less harmful than tobacco smoke.
- Smoke-free policies should not automatically be extended to vaping.
- Vapes should be included in standard protocols to treat tobacco dependency
- All nicotine products should be included in a comprehensive regulatory framework which applies market controls in proportion to their hazard to consumers
Read the full report to find lots of excellent recommendations which are not included in the executive summary:
ETHRA entered a submission to the APPG on Vaping Inquiry, which aims to shape the future of tobacco harm reduction policies in the UK.
Read our full submission at the link:
Something to watch:
In this video University College London Senior Research Fellow, Dr Sharon Cox, discusses relative risk and the harm reduction benefits of vaping, as well as her own research with smokers in disadvantaged groups:
How Perceptions of E-Cigarettes Impact the Harm Reduction Potential of Vaping | Vape Live - Europe
The Global Forum on Nicotine will be held on 17 and 18 June and is free to watch online - but you will need to register. This year the conference includes GFN Fives, which are short multimedia presentations, submitted by the GFN audience. They include some excellent consumer videos like this one, from ETHRA partner EU for Snus:
Watch this and many other videos on the main GFN Fives page: https://gfn.events/videos