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Belgium Accepts Reduced Harm

The Belgian Superior Health Council has sent a report to the government saying vaping is a better alternative than smoking and can be used as a smoking cessation aid

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The Belgian Superior Health Council (a scientific advisory board for the Government) acknowledged that vaping is less harmful than smoking and recommends smokers to switch to vaping. The recommendation to the Government was published last Tuesday. The report states that vaping “is a better alternative than smoking and can be used as a smoking cessation aid.”

The Superior Health Council says it has emphasised “that phasing out the use of traditional tobacco cigarettes must remain an absolute priority.”

The downside is that the Council continues to spread fear over a potential but as yet unproven link between flavours and a negative impact on health.

It says there should be a freeze on the current e-liquid market and not allow any new ingredients. This should be combined with an investigation of the effects of inhalation of e-liquids.

Michael Landl, Director of the global vaping advocacy group World Vapers’ Alliance, commented: “It is great that the Council acknowledges the benefits of vaping and its role in helping smokers quit. Vaping is proven to be one of the most successful smoking cessation methods. Now the Minister of Health, Frank Vandenbroucke, needs to follow their lead.

“Unfortunately, the Council seems to miss the most important point about flavours: they are essential for vapers and smokers who want to switch. Obviously, we need safety and quality controls, but we must stay away from banning flavours generally. This would push thousands of vapers back to smoking or the black market. Hence, it would damage public health instead of improving it.”

Harm reduction Colin Mendelsohn described the paper as a “comprehensive report”, adding that it stands “in stark contrast to the advice of Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council”.

The report recognises a special role for vulnerable populations, such as those with mental illness, low-income groups and prisoners. Based on the current state of knowledge, the report concludes the exclusive use of e-cigarettes by (ex-)smokers, provided that they actually stop smoking, could lead to a significant reduction in health risks.

Wisely, the guidelines advise risk-proportionate regulation of vaping. Vaping is much less harmful than smoking and should be regulated much more lightly in line with the lower risk.

Education of smokers of the benefits of vaping is recommended. As in Australia, Belgian smokers have exaggerated perceptions about the risks of vaping.”

Referring to Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council, Colin added that “the NHMRC examined the same evidence and has taken an overly cautious and hostile position.

The agenda and independence of the NHMRC has been called into question by its own findings which do not reflect the scientific evidence.”


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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