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EU Subcontracts Tobacco Control

The European Union has announced that it is subcontracting key responsibilities for tobacco control to unelected bodies, warns the European Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates

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The European Union has announced that it is subcontracting key responsibilities for tobacco control to unelected bodies, warns the European Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates (ETHRA). ETHRA operates to coordinate the actions of pan-European consumer groups and advocacy organisations. The body cautions that this sounds “alarm bells over accountability and potential conflicts of interest”.

EU officials previously put the Single Framework Contract for Support Actions in the Field of Tobacco Control out to tender. They recently announced that the process had been completed and three contractors have been appointed:

  • Open Evidence (a Spanish research and consulting firm)
  • The European Network for Smoking Prevention (ENSP), and
  • The University of Crete

ETHRA has shared that Open Evidence reports that it will be leading an “international consortium” as part of its contribution. This consortium is set to include ICF Consulting from the UK, Milieu Law & Policy Consulting based in Brussels, and the Michael Bloomberg funded Vital Strategies.

The consumer body warns that the contract is set to last four years and is worth €3 million.

ETHRA states the contractor's workload will include.

  • Review of existing scientific literature and studies and/or assessment of health and clinical outcomes related to one or more tobacco or nicotine related topics,
  • Statistical, market and econometric analysis related to health or one or more tobacco or nicotine related topics,
  • Tobacco Control Policy modelling,
  • Behavioural studies and outcomes' analysis on a specific topic/issue,
  • Support on Combined Health Warnings,
  • Support on Labelling and Packaging of tobacco and related products,
  • Emissions/ingredients limits and relevant content/emission markers,
  • Technical input supporting development of information systems,
  • Contribute to legal assessment of the EU, national and international tobacco control measures

ETHRA says: “The introductory note to the tender specifications of HaDEA provides a legislative background of the EU tobacco control policies that aim to ensure a ‘tobacco-free generation’ by 2040.

“To achieve this, a revision of the Tobacco Products Directive is planned and includes ‘working in full transparency towards plain packaging and a full ban on flavours, using existing EU agencies to improve the assessment of ingredients, extending taxation to novel tobacco products, and tackling tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship on the internet and social media’.

“According to the authors of the document there is a concern that the EU’s regulatory framework ;does not currently address systematically all novel tobacco and emerging products, nor provide flexibility to address rapid product developments’.”

The European Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates says: “This looks a huge task ahead of the contractors. More importantly, this reveals that the European Commission’s policy-setting obligations are now being outsourced to third parties. And, questions of accountability arise: When EU member states are presented with proposals to change current legislation, how will they know which proposals come from the accountable official, and what was the role of external actors in setting EU legislation?

“Another issue is one of potential conflicts of interest (COI) for the groups awarded the tenders. Of course, they are obliged to declare that they do not have COI’s when it comes to the tobacco industry. But, what about potential conflicts from their work for other industries, such as the pharmaceutical industry, which we might not know about?

“And, notable to us is the absence of any intention to examine the potential benefits to people who smoke of using Safer Nicotine Products.”


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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