The Final Opinion will now feed into the formation of the next version of the EU’s Tobacco Product Directive. Its Preliminary Opinion (1) drew widespread condemnation for its exceptionally selective use of the evidence about vaping.
Dr Konstantinos Farsalinos told Eurarchiv (2): “Research in recent years, after the adoption of TDP in 2014, has become increasingly positive about e-cigarettes, always as a substitute for smoking. Compared to 2014, one would expect a more positive attitude. On the contrary, EU policymakers remain scientifically unsubstantiated with the risk of sabotaging the efforts to replace smoking with e-cigarettes.”
MEP Pietro Fiocchi conveyed to Tobacco Reporter (3) that he believes the European Commission is set on treating vaping like smoking, “and it will plan to apply the same limitations, through heavy regulations and fiscal impositions.”
If anybody wondered how such a situation could come to pass, the members of the committee appear to have been selected for their opinions about vaping. Heading the list, Roberto Bertollini was lambasted in 2013 when he gave an “appalling” presentation to a European Parliament workshop.
“His presentation consisted in cherry-picking negative studies, studies that show that e-cigarettes are bad, and deliberately omitting studies that suggest that e-cigarettes could be useful in helping people quit smoking. So, I confronted him on that, and he didn’t like it,” Professor Jean-François Etter said, quoted by Clive Bates (4).
As with the Preliminary Opinion, the response to the Final Opinion has been uniformly negative.
The World Vapers’ Alliance (WVA) described it as a step backwards for Europe.
“Based on weak data,” the organisation told POTV, “it ignores crucial scientific evidence, experience from consumers and the expert opinions received in the consultation period.”
Michael Landl, Director of the WVA (5) commented: “This report is a tragedy for public health and will have dire consequences for smokers and vapers alike. SCHEER ignores a large amount of scientific evidence on vaping, all of which was provided by experts and consumers to SCHEER during their consultation earlier this year. They chose to ignore it. This is a slap in the face of vapers and of common sense.
“Countries like the UK and France are actively encouraging smokers to use vaping and switch to this less harmful alternative. If the EU really wants to tackle smoking-related illnesses, it needs to look very carefully at all of the evidence. Unfortunately, the SCHEER report is biased against vaping, and its recommendations, if transposed into legislation, will damage public health
“It seems like the main objective has been overlooked: reducing the number of smokers and tackling smoking-induced illnesses. Vaping is not smoking and must not be treated the same. Regulation must be drafted in a way that encourages current smokers to switch. The EU needs to focus on practical solutions to reduce harm and this major point is missing from the SCHEER analysis. Vaping can help smokers quit, but this report ignores that and compares vaping to smoking. So, it is unsurprising that the results don’t echo reality.”
The Independent European Vape Alliance said the European Commission had missed an opportunity to bolster its Beating Cancer Plan and failed to recognise the importance of vaping in reducing smoking-related diseases among Europeans.
The organisation believes the report is useless for policy decisions because it failed to compare the risks of vaping with the risks of smoking.
Dustin Dahlmann, President of IEVA said: “The SCHEER committee has failed to present scientific data on vaping in a comprehensive and balanced manner. The result is a report that is little more than a series of baseless predetermined assertions. Another opportunity to educate smokers willing to switch to less harmful alternatives has been wasted, and this alone has serious public health implications. We urge decision makers in Brussels to integrate harm reduction in their overall strategy."
- SCHEER Ignorance - https://www.planetofthevapes.co.uk/news/vaping-news/2020-09-28_scheer-ignorance.html
- Debate heats up over electronic cigarettes in Europe - https://www.euractiv.com/section/health-consumers/news/debate-heats-up-over-electronic-cigarettes-in-europe/
- SHEER Opinion on Novel Products Due Friday - https://tobaccoreporter.com/2021/04/28/sheer-opinion-on-novel-products-due-friday/
- Some truth about e-cigarette regulation and the 'appalling' F-grade presentation of the WHO - https://www.clivebates.com/some-truth-about-e-cigarette-regulation-and-the-appalling-f-grade-presentation-of-the-who-etter/
- The World Vapers’ Alliance - www.worldvapersalliance.com
- The Independent European Vape Alliance - https://www.eurovape.eu/