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MEPs Opinions on Restrictions

Survey shows very few MEPs consider that new nicotine products should be more restricted by law

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ECigIntelligence, an organisation specialising in market and regulatory analysis, legal tracking, and quantitative data for the global tobacco and nicotine alternatives sector, has published its third annual survey of MEP’s opinions on new nicotine products. The World Vapers’ Alliance “celebrated” the findings.

Members of the European Parliament are less aware of key issues surrounding new nicotine products than in previous years, despite being asked to vote on important new legislation concerning the topic in the coming months, according to a new survey.

But the third annual survey, conducted by business intelligence researcher Tamarind Intelligence, publisher of leading intelligence platforms ECigIntelligence and TobaccoIntelligence, shows that the more MEPs know about new nicotine products (e-cigarettes, nicotine pouches and heated tobacco), the more likely they are to consider that these products are less harmful than cigarettes.

A summary of the views of members of the European Parliament on vaping, heated tobacco products, and nicotine pouches:

  • Very few MEPs consider that new nicotine products should be more restricted by law than traditional tobacco, and a majority believe online sales should be allowed for adults (with age verification). But a growing number are unsure.
  • Indeed, MEPs appear to be broadly less likely than in previous years to express firm views in favour of or against new nicotine products. For example, MEPs with no knowledge of new nicotine products are becoming far more likely to acknowledge that they don’t know the risks.
  • This trend towards uncertainty suggests either that MEPs are less confident about their level of knowledge on the topic, or that they recognise it is increasingly controversial and politicised.
  • A narrow majority of MEP responses regard new nicotine products as less harmful than smoking, and only a small minority (19%) consider them equally harmful to smoking. But again, many are unsure.
  • The level of knowledge that MEPs have of these products appears to be a factor in their views on them. For example, those with knowledge of new nicotine products generally see them as less risky, compared with those lacking knowledge.

Tim Phillips, Managing Director of Tamarind Intelligence, said: “Our 3rd annual MEP Survey results are particularly relevant given the recent launch of the European Commission’s public consultation on evaluating the legislative framework for tobacco control at the end of February 2023, and the adoption by the European Parliament of the BECA committee’s recommendations over a year ago. As some of the questions in the Commission’s consultation are similar to the ones we asked in our MEP Survey, it will be fascinating to see if MEPs views on the topic of new nicotine products will be in line with responses to the public consultation.”

Michael Landl, director of the World Vapers’ Alliance said: “We celebrate that more and more legislators become aware of harm reduction benefits to smoking cessation.

“However, the survey also shows that there is a big pull of MEPs who lack a fundamental knowledge about tobacco harm reduction, and yet they will determine the future of the tobacco legislation for years to come.

“The myths about vaping and nicotine have gotten in the way of embracing harm reduction by many governments. How can we expect that sensible regulation based on the risk-based approach is adopted if more than half of MEPs have no knowledge or a misguided perception about smoking alternatives?”
World Vapers’ Alliance has recently released the Policy Primer that features case studies of the most successful countries that have embraced alternative products as a means of combating traditional smoking. These include the United Kingdom and Sweden among others.
“Sweden is the only European country that is close to achieving a 5% smoke-free goal. And the reason for such success is that Swedish legislators listen to consumers and support harm reduction through properly regulated snus and an open attitude towards vaping. Together with the network of vaping advocacy organisations, we keep spreading awareness about the positive role of nicotine products in Europe and beyond. We hope that EU politicians will follow the example and become a global harm reduction leader,” added Landl.
The WVA has also published a harm reduction fact sheet containing relevant academic and scientific research on all topics surrounding nicotine products, including effects of vaping and nicotine, taxation, and flavours. The fact sheet can be accessed here.

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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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