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Legislators Relying on Misinformation

EU decision-makers are formulating policy on the back of “misinformation” and “innate prejudice towards harm reduction”, according to the World Vapers’ Alliance

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Consumers have responded to the European Union’s SANT Committee Hearing that believes policy makers need to focus on harm due to cigarettes. These decision-makers are formulating policy on the back of “misinformation” and “innate prejudice towards harm reduction”, according to the World Vapers’ Alliance. The Alliance has also taken aim at The World Health Organization (WHO)'s director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus as he denounced vaping and denied it works to reduce harm.

The SANT (Subcommittee on Public Health) held a hearing on “Preventing non-communicable diseases” to focus on possible solutions, on 1 June.

With nicotine consumption being one of the focus topics of the discussion, it becomes clear that there is still a lot of misinformation and innate prejudice towards harm reduction among the EU decision-makers, says Michael Landl, director of the World Vapers’ Alliance, an association that claims to amplify voices of vapers worldwide.

While non-communicable diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, chronic lung illnesses, and cancer should be the cornerstone of the EU public health agenda, it is also crucial to pursue evidence-based and science-based approaches. We need to reduce actual harms and not fight nicotine consumption per se. The real public-health threat comes from cigarette smoking. Alternative products such as snus, vaping, and nicotine pouches are reducing smoking induced illnesses, because they effectively help smokers to quit. Fighting nicotine consumption instead of actual harms will have much more harmful consequences,” said Landl.

Among the addressed misconceptions about the role of harm reduction, stood out comments of MEP González Casares and MEP Trillet-Lenoir.

MEP González Casares commented: “One thing we do know that makes everything worse and increases mortality from cardiovascular disease is smoking. What we heard here is some defence of technique or devices in a broader world of tobacco consumption. Not long ago, there was a ban on vaping in some states. Some people say it helps you kick the habit, but if we talk about prevention, we talk about people not smoking or not getting a habit in the first place and this is the risk we should not take.

MEP Véronique Trillet-Lenoir commented: “We are here to address public health in a serious, science-based manner.”

Worryingly, the MEP then proceeded to completely ignore “the science” by addressing the study on the role of nicotine and snus in helping smokers quit,as clearly the promotion of the harmful product, maybe not as much cancerogenic as tobacco but harmful however.

Landl pointed out: “Several studies, wide consumer preferences, and actual real-life examples such as the Swedish smoke-free goal achievement 17 years ahead of the EU target are strong evidence that harm reduction works and can succeed in preventing non-communicable diseases.

Following the discussion, the World Vapers Alliance urged the SANT committee to look into the BECA conclusion and embrace harm reduction tools.

The Alliance says it has released a comprehensive harm reduction fact sheet that contains a compilation of scientific studies covering nicotine use, role of flavours in e-cigarettes, and the impact of taxation on public health:

World Health Organization continues opposition to vaping

Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus reconfirmed the organisation's opposition to vaping and tobacco harm reduction by telling press that “it is not true” that vaping can be used as a public health harm reduction measure last week. He said that positioning vapes as harm reduction tools “is a trap”.

Michael Landl commented: “It is shocking that the WHO still fights tobacco harm reduction. To achieve its 5% smoke-free target, we need as many options as possible to help smokers quit. Vaping, nicotine pouches and similar products help people quit smoking and are less harmful. The WHO systematically ignores the wealth of scientific evidence pointing to the benefits, not to mention the first-hand experience of millions of vapers. The WHO's negative approach to harm reduction will do nothing but continue the unsuccessful ways of the past.”

The WHO recognises that eight million people die yearly from smoking-related illnesses and yet it remains focussed on nicotine consumption in general instead of the actual causes of harm produced by combusting tobacco.

Instead of encouraging smokers to switch to less harmful alternatives, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus refuses to listen to science, experts, and consumers. This statement shows that the WHO intends to further crack down on harm reduction while accepting all the negative consequences. On the contrary, harm reduction must become a key element of future anti-smoking policies. Countries such as the United Kingdom or Sweden, which becomes smoke-free this year, show that harm reduction works and saves lives”, concluded Landl.

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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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