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Beating Cancer

The European Special Committee on Beating Cancer met to discuss evidence

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Last Wednesday, the Special Committee on Beating Cancer of the European Parliament (BECA) held a meeting and invited leading cancer experts to discuss methods of prevention. Titled “Facilitating a healthy lifestyle: how to reduce cancer related lifestyle risk factors”, the session focussed on the fact that 40% of cancer-related deaths in the European Union are preventable.

European Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates (ETHRA) reports that Professor Ute Mons argued to strengthen current EU legislation, in particular the Tax Directive and Tobacco Products Directive. She said that cigarettes are the most dangerous product because of the toxins created during combustion. Unfortunately, rather than lead that onto extolling the virtues of vaping, she focussed on World Health Organization guidelines and supposed cigarette plain packaging successes. She added that plain packaging should be extended to all tobacco products – which would include vaping.

ETHRA says there were a few MEPs who addressed risk reduction and vaping: “Kateřina Konečná talked about the complex problem of reaching left behind groups and those on the fringes of society. Konečná said that although complete abstinence may be the goal of public health it is unrealistic, and so harm reduction should be considered.

“Véronique Trillet-Lenoir asked about neutral packaging, mandatory health warnings and banning flavours for tobacco products. Sarah Cerdas wanted to know what the experts’ opinions were on new tobacco products and what evidence was available to MEP’s to enable them to reach informed decisions when legislating for these new products.”

ETHRA was pleased with contributions made by Peter Liese, “he suggested that the committee need to be more open towards e-cigarettes.”

To further make the point he recalled comments from WHO expert Dr Shultz to the health working group in February where he said, ‘there is no scenario in which e-cigarettes are more dangerous than tobacco (smoking)’.”

Professor Chilingirova then gave some “especially insightful” thoughts on tobacco harm reduction, according to ETHRA: “Alternatives are important as restrictions do not work for those who have made a personal choice to smoke, that stigmatisation is not a helpful tactic and that restrictions which apply to cigarettes should not be placed on novel products. She added that the data to date shows that novel products are reduced risk products and they are a good option for smokers that don’t want to quit.”

The consumer organisation that represents members from across the continent believes the hearing was “more positive than expected”. It feels that as several members of this “important and influential” committee recognised the need for tobacco harm reduction strategies, it “is a positive development and one to be cautiously optimistic about.”

ETHRA urges readers with an MEP to make contact with them to get “the message across that harm reduction matters”.


  • European Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates – [link]
  • Presentations from the BECA hearing [link]
  • Facilitating a healthy lifestyle: how to reduce cancer related lifestyle risk factors, public hearing [link]

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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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