MEPs Want Integrated EU Strategy

Posted 16th November 2023 by Dave Cross
MEPs are proposing actions “to prevent and lower the prevalence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the EU, in order to reduce the burden on healthcare systems and on citizens’ quality of life”. The World Vapers’ Alliance says that this is a step in the right direction, but the report remains “problematic”.

The European Parliament’s release states: “MEPs stress that prevention is key in combating NCDs. They underline the need to address the main factors that substantially increase the risk of NCDs, including tobacco use, physical inactivity, harmful use of alcohol, unhealthy diets, environmental factors, UV radiation and chemical exposure. They specifically call on the Commission to urgently implement the proposed restriction of ‘forever chemicals’ (per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances or PFAS), which can lead to serious medical conditions such as obesity, diabetes and cancer.

Rapporteur Erik Poulsen said: “The European Parliament has previously presented ambitious plans for beating cancer and COVID-19. Today, we present an ambitious report to combat non-communicable diseases where we address many other diseases that reduce Europeans' quality of life. It is important to strengthen actions towards prevention, diagnosing people as early as possible, improving data and research in NCDs, improving knowledge and sharing of best practices between member states and strengthening incentives for investments in innovation.”

The World Vapers’ Alliance says the European Parliament’s report on non-communicable diseases acknowledges that vaping is a way for smokers to gradually quit. However, it adds, the SANT's recommendation to ban vaping in some public areas has sparked debate and concern.

Michael Landl, Director of the World Vapers’ Alliance, offers a nuanced view of the report: “Parliament’s recognition that vaping can help smokers quit is a step in the right direction. With the well-documented success of vaping as a smoking cessation aid, it's crucial for the EU to fully embrace this tool within its strategy to reduce smoking-related illnesses. Vaping not only offers a way out for smokers but is instrumental in achieving public health goals.”

Despite this recognition, the report’s proposal to extend smoking bans to vaping is seen problematic.

“Treating vaping the same as smoking in public spaces sends the wrong message to smokers who want to quit. There is no evidence of harm from secondhand vaping. The Subcommittee must reconsider the broader impact, including the risk of former smokers relapsing. A more thoughtful regulatory approach based on common sense is imperative to ensure that vaping remains a viable option for those committed to quitting cigarettes.”

The WVA believes that for the EU to significantly lower smoking rates and effectively tackle NCDs, supportive measures for harm reduction strategies like vaping must be integrated into public health policies.

 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, salad destroyer and live culture convert.
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