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ETHRA Contributes To TPD3

European umbrella consumer advocacy organisation participated in the current review of the Tobacco Products Directive

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The European Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates (ETHRA) is a group of 21 consumer associations in 16 European countries, representing approximately 27 million consumers across Europe and supported by scientific experts in the field of tobacco control or nicotine research.

ETHRA said: “[We were] invited to participate in the current review of the TPD, by responding to an online stakeholder questionnaire and taking part in a follow up telephone interview.”

A summary of the points the organisation made have been put into a document that everyone can download and digest.

ETHRA added: “A failure to regulate safer nicotine products well is a win for smoking. In our notes we outline the key areas where the TPD fails to ensure a high level of health protection.

The organisation noted that the evaluation process does not include any scope to examine unintended consequences of poor regulation. It called on the EU to recognise consumers as essential stakeholders in policy discussions to give them the opportunity to participate in the evaluation process.

The key areas the detailed document addresses:

The 20mg/ml nicotine limit

The 20mg/ml limit is too low to satisfy many dependent smokers. These smokers are the people who vaping could help, yet they are being deprived of the level of nicotine that many of us consumers found to be critical in initially moving us away from smoking. Restricting nicotine limits to 20mg/ml takes away the ‘hook’ for many smokers in deciding to switch. Nicotine obtained via vaping has a different delivery profile to that obtained by smoking so it can take some getting used to and using e-liquids with a reasonable nicotine concentration can help with that.”

Overstated health warnings

The excessive mandatory health warnings overstate the risks of vaping and are deterring smokers from trying vaping. The prominence (size, placement, colour and typeface) and the alarming wording suggest far greater risk than there is. The warnings are similar in style to those used on cigarettes, yet the risk, if any, is a small fraction of the risk of smoking. This tilts perceptions in favour of the more dangerous products. The warnings about nicotine have the effect of reinforcing the widespread misunderstanding that it is nicotine, not smoke, that is the most significant cause of harm. E-cigarettes only represent a fraction of the risk of combustible tobacco products and the warning labels should reflect this difference in risk.”

The advertising ban

Article 20(5) prohibits advertising of vaping products in most forms not in a fixed location. This is a form of regulatory protection to the market incumbent, the cigarettes. Advertising is essential for entrants and innovators to gain a hold on a market dominated by a more harmful rival. We are concerned that bans on advertising mean fewer smokers will be aware limits on volume for bottles and tanks of the products and attracted to trying to switch to the lower risk products. There is emerging evidence that bans on e-cigarette advertising cause increases in smoking.”

The failure to protect flavours

Given the purpose of the TPD is to harmonise regulation with a high level of health protection, it allows member states too much room for manoeuvre with regards to regulation of safer products. Several member states have already implemented flavour bans for eliquids and there are more in the pipeline. These flavour bans destroy the appeal of vaping products to smokers, so favour the combustible cigarette trade and thereby prolong smoking and undermine both the internal market and health objectives of the TPD.”

The ban on the sale of snus

The TPD prohibits the sale of snus throughout the EU, except in Sweden, which obtained an exemption when joining. Lifting the snus ban represents a huge opportunity to reduce the burden on health from smoking. Snus is a pasteurised smokeless tobacco product that has been used in Scandinavia for centuries. Snus has replaced smoking at such an extraordinary rate in Sweden, Norway and Iceland that these countries are now close to the point of being smokefree (smoking prevalence of 5% or lower).”

The full document can be read here: [link]


  • European Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates – [link]
  • ETHRA’s TPD submission – [link]
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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