Politics & Campaigns

ETHRA Attends European Meeting

European Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates has taken part in a recent virtual meeting held by the European Commission’s DG SANTE

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The European Commission’s DG SANTE hosted a virtual meeting looking at new tobacco and nicotine products in tobacco control policies. Consumer organisations were given a chance to convey their opinions on safer nicotine products (like vaping) and the European Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates (ETHRA) attended.

As well as ETHRA contributing, representatives from INNCO and ETHRA partners Aiduce, ANPVU, Sovape, and NNA Sweden took part. Eleven organisations has five minutes to deliver their opinions and evidence for vaping and tobacco harm reduction.

ETHRA said: “The meeting turned out to be quite informal and was mostly taken up with presentations, with no time for discussion. DG SANTE, in its opening remarks, made a point of stressing that this meeting is not part of any consultation on the future regulation of safer nicotine products. However, the presentations from consumer organisations were good and very informative.

“As the revisions of the Tobacco Products Directive and Tobacco Excise Directives are well underway, we hope DG SANTE and the observers from ENSP and SFP take the information provided and our views and concerns into account. We await our invitation to participate as observers in meetings between ENSP and SFP and the Commission. We were informed that minutes of the meeting will be uploaded in due course.”

ETHRA’s presentation was delivered by Damian Sweeney, Chair of NNA Ireland.

He said: “ETHRA is a Europe-wide consumer network with partners in most EU countries.

We aim to represent the consumer interest in low-risk alternatives to smoking – which are vapes, heated tobacco products, nicotine pouches and snus.

“We support consumer protection regulation, but we oppose regulation that makes these products more difficult to access, more expensive, or less effective as alternatives to smoking.

“We are listed in the Transparency Register and do not take money from tobacco, vaping or pharma sources. ETHRA is run on a voluntary basis.

“We are genuinely pleased to be invited to this stakeholder meeting. Consumers are the stakeholders most directly affected by EU action in the area, and it’s crucial that we’re involved in the conversation.

“Given the high risks of smoking, smokers need the widest possible range of safer nicotine products to transition out of smoking. Any regulation which prevents that, will literally be life-threatening. So, the stakes are high for Europe’s 27 million consumers of safer nicotine products and also for the many smokers who might switch to these products in future.

“Respectfully, we hope consumer views will be taken seriously in the development of any new policies in this area.”

Damian argued there is a pressing need for a common understanding of three critical findings:

  • Combustion is the key factor that causes smoking related harm. Safer products such as e-cigs don’t produce the products of combustion are therefore pose reduced risk
  • Safer products help adults quit smoking and there is a wealth of evidence to support this
  • E-cigarettes are cheaper than tobacco and overregulation will increase smoking

ETHRA’s full presentation is available on its website here

Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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