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New Approach Demanded

MEPs and consumers called for a new anti-smoking approach on World No Tobacco Day

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Members of the European Parliament, together with consumer activists, called for a more open approach towards harm reduction in the EU. World No Tobacco Day took place on May 31 and was a reminder that traditional anti-smoking policies are not working anymore. Eight million deaths worldwide due to smoking should be reason enough to rethink traditional approaches and learn from countries that successfully reduced smoking rates, like Sweden.

World Tobacco Day took place on 31 May, proclaimed by the World Health Organisation to draw attention to the global adverse health impacts of smoking. The World Vapers’ Alliance hosted a press conference in Brussels to draw attention to the Swedish example of a successful smoking-cessation strategy, as the EU struggles to develop a sensible approach to combat smoking-rates and provide further information on the issue.

The press conference was joined by the Swedish MEPs who actively support the Swedish harm reduction model, MEP Charlie Weimers and MEP Johan Nissinen, as well as members of the Swedish activist community.

Michael Landl, Director of the World Vapers’ Alliance, said in the course of World Vape Day: “World No Tobacco Day is a sad reminder that a new approach in the fight against smoking is needed. Instead of fighting less harmful alternatives like vaping, the EU and WHO must start accepting reality: harm reduction works!

“Sweden is becoming the first smoke-free country this year due to a consumer-friendly harm reduction approach. It is high time to learn from the Swedish experience and thereby save millions of lives. With a smart harm reduction approach, we can reach a smoke-free Europe way sooner than the target.”

Sweden is about to become the first country in the world to achieve a daily smoking rate below 5%, a benchmark to qualify it as a smoke-free country, 17 years ahead of the EU’s target while almost all other countries are failing.

MEP Charlie Weimers commented: "Policy should be evidence based. WHO will soon classify Sweden as Europe’s first smoke-free country because of harm reduction policies and widespread use of snus."

To reinforce the impact of the Swedish model, MEP Johann Nissinen said: “It is clear that smoking kills, and we need to do everything we can to prevent those unnecessary deaths.

“Sweden is the best example of how this is achievable, namely with a pragmatic harm reduction approach. It is the only country in the EU where snus is legal and popular with 18% of the population using it. Consuming snus instead of cigarettes saved many Swedish lives. It is time that the EU Commission expects this reality and starts acting accordingly.”

Carissa Düring, a spokesperson for a non-profit consumer organisation, Considerate Pouches, added: “It has always surprised me why not more countries allow a product like snus that has helped millions quit smoking and has been safely used for more than 200 years in Sweden. Sweden is a natural experiment that shows that harm reduction works. The low smoking rates speak for themselves.”

The World Vapers’ Alliance has released a guide to the Swedish smoke-free model which was discussed at a press conference. Further information about it can be found here.

The Swedish case presents the third and final determining pillar in the pro-harm reduction argument. The science, the experience of the consumers, and now the Swedish example are prove that harm reduction works in achieving a smoke-free society. Now we have an undeniable case that the EU-wide regulation must be risk-based and evidence-supported,” said Michael Landl.

Only with the harm reduction approach as a centrepiece of the new Tobacco Products Regulation, so the EU can achieve its smoking-free goals before the target.”

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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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