ETHRA Slams “Perverse” European Commission

Posted 10th February 2021 by Dave Cross
The European Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates (ETHRA) umbrella consumer organisation has slammed what it calls the, “Perverse unintended consequences of proposed tobacco/nicotine policy measures in Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan”. The 22-member organisation represents vapers in 16 countries and says the Plan “signals that the Commission intends to turn its back on innovation and science”.

ETHRA’s members have just written to the MEPs on the Special Committee on Beating Cancer (BECA) to express their collective “dismay” at the proposals for vaping contained within the European Commission’s Beating Cancer plan. “Consumers and experts submitted in their thousands to the two public consultations last year, yet those views are ignored in the Plan.”

The umbrella body says: “The Plan spectacularly fails to make a distinction between harmful smoking products and smoke free alternatives and signals that the Commission intends to turn its back on innovation and science by cracking down on vaping, the popular and far less risky alternative to smoking.”

The letters sent to sitting MEPs was sent on behalf of the 27 million alternative nicotine product consumers across Europe. It states: “The measures would make low-risk products such as e-cigarettes and smoke-free tobacco products, less effective and attractive as alternatives to cigarettes. The effect would be to protect the tobacco industry, reduce the number of Europeans quitting smoking by switching to low-risk alternatives, and add to the overall burden of cancer – exactly the opposite of the aim of Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan.”

It should not be difficult to understand how excessive regulation of e-cigarettes will cause harm by protecting the cigarette business and perpetuating smoking” – ETHRA

ETHRA points to a statement by The Royal College of Physicians (RCP), highlighting that embracing a risk-averse, precautionary approach “makes e-cigarettes less easily accessible, less palatable, or acceptable, more expensive, less consumer-friendly or pharmacologically less effective, or inhibits innovation and development of new and improved products, then it causes harm by perpetuating smoking.”

The RCP believes getting that balance right is difficult, it’s something BECA and the Commission are clearly getting totally wrong.


Consumers and public health experts have repeatedly highlighted these dangers. A Road Map and public consultation for the Plan attracted thousands of responses from consumers last year, yet the Commission’s proposals completely ignore these submissions. As ex-smokers, we are painfully aware of how difficult it can be to quit smoking, and many of us could only quit using safer nicotine products after other methods had failed us. If these Cancer Plan proposals were already in force, there is no doubt that many of us would still be smoking today.”

The full letter can be accessed from the link below.


  • European Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates – [link]
  • The New Nicotine Alliance – [link]
  • ETHRA’s letter to BECA members – [link]
  • The Beating Cancer Plan, European Commission – [link]

 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, dog walker