ETHRA and partners have today, Tuesday 19 October, written to the Heads of Delegation of the European Parties to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), in advance of the 9th Conference of the Parties (COP9). We are calling on delegates to urge the WHO to modernise its approach to tobacco policy, and to include tobacco harm reduction in the FCTC. We attached the recent expert letter, signed by 100 specialists in nicotine science, policy and practice, which calls on the Parties to the FCTC to take a positive stance on tobacco harm reduction. Read our letter to delegates below.
ETHRA letter to the Heads of Delegation of the European Parties for the FCTC
We write in anticipation of the FCTC 9th Conference of the Parties (COP9) to urge you to take into consideration the views of the millions of ex-smokers who have vastly improved their health by switching to smoke-free low-risk alternatives to cigarettes.
We ask that tobacco harm reduction measures be incorporated into current tobacco control measures, as per Article 1(d) of the FCTC, which includes tobacco harm reduction in the definition of tobacco control.
WHO has consistently downplayed or denied the health opportunities of tobacco harm reduction, overstated the risks and selectively chosen and misinterpreted science to make its case. WHO promotes prohibitions and excessive regulation of these smoke-free products but ignores the likely harmful unintended consequences of such measures, which would be more smoking, ill-health and unregulated black markets. Parties should expect and demand better science and policy analysis and be open to insights about the use of tobacco harm reduction to reduce the burden of disease from experts, consumers, and businesses with specialised knowledge.
The concept of “nothing about us, without us” is persistently ignored by the parties. As Consumers, we are most affected by disproportionate and reckless regulations, but we are locked out of any discussions. We are not listened to, we are not consulted, we are ignored.
ETHRA is a group of 23 grassroots consumer associations in 16 European countries, supported by experts in the field of tobacco control and nicotine research. We are the voice of 27 million European users of low-risk alternatives to smoking and far more potential users. We support tobacco harm reduction: helping and encouraging smokers to switch from high-risk to low-risk nicotine products as a practical public health strategy that will work quickly and at scale, not just in the EU but globally. We are a voluntary operation, we have no industry funding, or conflicts of interest. Our transparency register number is 354946837243-73.
As ex-smokers we understand better than anyone how difficult quitting smoking can be. Most of us made many unsuccessful quit attempts using traditional cessation methods, and it wasn’t until we found safer nicotine products that we were finally able to quit smoking and remain smoke free. Vapes, snus, nicotine pouches and heated tobacco products are proving to be hugely popular and successful methods of quitting smoking in the EU.
We attach a letter from 100 independent experts in tobacco and nicotine science and policy, and we urge you to take our views and the views of these highly respected experts into account. The recommendation on tobacco harm reduction from this expert group will save millions of lives. However, the unintended consequences of regulating safer nicotine products out of existence would be catastrophic.
One hundred specialists call for WHO to change its hostile stance on tobacco harm reduction – [link]
Expert statements on WHO and tobacco harm reduction – [link]