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Belgium Urged to Prioritise Harm Reduction

Just over a year ago the Belgian Superior Health Council was recommending smokers switch to vapes, but now European consumers are renewing a call to the Belgian presidency to prioritise harm reduction

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In 2022, the Belgian Superior Health Council acknowledged in a report to the government that vaping is less harmful than smoking and recommended smokers switch to vaping. Now, European members of the World Vapers’ Alliance are urging the Belgian government to address harm reduction as their health priority in the upcoming Council presidency term due to a lack of progress.

Last week, Politico published a working program of the Belgian presidency that addressed its five health priorities, including resiliency of health and health systems, health equality, and healthy population among others.

Michael Landl, director of the World Vapers’ Alliance said: “Tobacco harm reduction should be the cornerstone of the EU health priorities as smoking is still the number one preventable cause of deaths in the EU.

“There are over 1.3 billion people who are still smoking, with 88 million in the European Union alone. Sweden has become a harm reduction champion as it is moving towards a nation-wide risk-based policy with snus, a traditional smokeless tobacco product, lowering its tax by 20%. We are urging the Belgian government to follow the Swedish example and embrace harm reduction as a driving force toward a smoke-free Europe.

The EU should make it easier for smokers to quit, not harder. Allowing for flavours and lowering tax on lower-risk products have proven to be the most effective way to encourage smoking-cessation, as in Sweden and the UK.”

The World Vapers’ Alliance says it has recently published a comprehensive fact sheet with the available research from the governmental, medical, and research institutions on vaping and tobacco harm reduction. The resource is available here.

In Clearing the Air: The Science Behind Harm Reduction & Vaping, the World Vapers’ Alliance states: “Since the pioneering of nicotine-based smoking alternative products, we have seen huge progress in cutting smoking rates worldwide. For instance, Sweden, a country with a long tradition of promoting snus and nicotine pouches, is being celebrated by many policymakers for being the first country in the world to become smoke-free.

“The United Kingdom has slashed its smoking rates by almost 50% between the public endorsement of vaping by Public Health England in 2015 and 2021, now rolling out a nationwide program to encourage smokers to give up cigarettes by swapping it for a free vape instead. Harm reduction has been proven to be a driving force in the global fight against smoking.”

The fact sheet contains a comprehensive overview of the issues relating to vaping and provides detailed references to extensive research to support the arguments contained in the document.

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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