Politics & Campaigns

ETHRA Writes to SANT Committee

European consumer advocacy umbrella organisation ETHRA has written to the SANT Committee on non-communicable diseases

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European consumer advocacy umbrella organisation ETHRA (European Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates) is a collection of national consumer organisations, public health experts and scientific partners. It has written to the SANT Committee on non-communicable diseases regarding the definitions used in the Rapporture's Draft Report on non-communicable diseases, most notably 'tobacco use', and the role of safer nicotine products such as vapes.

SANT is the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Public Health. The draft report states: “Supports the Commission’s proposals to review the Tobacco Products Directive11 and

the Tobacco Taxation Directive12 and the proposal to update the Council recommendation of 30 November 2009 on smoke-free environments13; calls for a full implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control; calls on the Commission and the Member States to:

  • follow up on the scientific evaluations of the health risks related to electronic cigarettes, heated tobacco products and novel tobacco products including the assessment of the risks of using these products compared to consuming other tobacco products

In its letter to the SANT Committee members, the consumer body says: “ETHRA is the voice of 27 million EU consumers of safer nicotine products (SNPs). The safer nicotine products we use include vapes, nicotine pouches, snus and heated tobacco products.  ETHRA is a consortium of 24 grassroots consumer associations in 17 European countries, supported by experts in tobacco control and nicotine research. We are a voluntary operation with no industry funding or conflicts of interest. Our transparency registration number is 354946837243-73.”

The letter continues: “We read the recently published Subcommittee on Public Health Draft Report on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) with great interest. The report notes the huge health burden of NCDs, causing 90% of all deaths in the EU. It also notes that preventative measures which address the main risk factors in the development of NCDs can dramatically reduce the prevalence of deadly diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, and COPD.

“Given the importance of the report and the work of the SANT Subcommittee we are concerned that ‘tobacco use’ rather than smoking has been identified as a risk factor for NCDs (section E, page 4). In fact, it is the inhalation of the toxic byproducts of combustion that causes the harms from smoking, including the development of the NCDs, not simply tobacco use. Clarity and accuracy are vital when it comes to effective policy, so it is important that the report reflects that smoking is one of the four main preventable risk factors.

“Reducing smoking prevalence is essential if the EU is to reach the WHO’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target 3.4, which aims to reduce premature deaths from four key NCDs by one- third by 2030. Encouraging smokers to transition to a non-combustible safer nicotine product can be an effective way to reduce smoking prevalence and achieve this goal.

“We welcome section 5a (NCD prevention) of the draft report which states: “follow up on the scientific evaluations of the health risks related to electronic cigarettes, heated tobacco products and novel tobacco products including the assessment of the risks of using these products compared to consuming other tobacco products.”  However, as safer nicotine products are substitutes for combustible tobacco,  risk assessments must compare the use of SNPs with smoking, not with ‘consuming other tobacco products’.

“We would also like to highlight the importance of applying the EU’s core principles relating to the internal market, proportionality, and non-discrimination in policymaking. We believe rigorous application of these foundational principles would change the current approach to safer nicotine products. These principles justify risk-proportionate regulation with a critical distinction drawn between combustible (harmful) and non-combustible (far less harmful) products.

“Safer nicotine products are a popular and effective means of smoking cessation so it is important that Committee members assess the potential public health benefits. Consideration should also be given to the potential unintended consequences of restrictive regulation. These unintended consequences could include an increase in smoking and the development of black markets.

“Having a wide range of safer nicotine products that are accessible and appealing to smokers will be an effective strategy to drive down smoking prevalence and reduce NCDs.

“ETHRA remains at the disposal of the European Parliament and would be delighted to supply any further information which you might require. We look forward to hearing from you.”

The SANT committee is set to meet again on Monday 18 September and Tuesday 19 September 2023. It’s not too late for its members to stop kowtowing to the World Health Organisation’s propaganda and to listen to organisations such as ETHRA offering it evidence-based facts.

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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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