Despite multiple campaigns and changes to legislation, the EU still has the highest prevalence of smoking in the world. According to the WHO, 28% of European’s are current smokers.
Although the EU has implemented smoking regulations in a bid to reduce cigarette consumption, harm reduction and health advocates are urging for the bloc to finally start trusting vaping as a tool.
However, a recent statement from the Commission could prove to be another setback for these groups. At an event, EU Health Commissioner, Vytenis Andriukaitis, described e-cigarettes as “poison”.
This has sparked outrage among a activists, who have pointed to various studies that show e-cigarettes are far less harmful than tobacco products.
Stakeholders, including a number of top researchers, have accused the Commission of ignoring scientific evidence, which suggests these products are safe and an effective smoking cessation tool.
Dr Konstantinos Farsalinos and Dr Konstantinos Poulas, who work at the department of pharmacy at the University of Patras in Greece, said in a letter: “Furthermore, it generates confusing messages to smokers who need, deserve and should have the right to access to less harmful products in an effort to quit smoking, a highly dependent behaviour.”
“While it has now become universally accepted within the EU that harm reduction is a necessary and effective approach in reducing the adverse health consequences of recreational drug use, there is a lot of resistance in accepting a similar approach for smoking,”
The President of the German Association of E-Cigarette Trade (VdeH) also noted: “It is very worrying that the responsible EU Commissioner’s head of cabinet betrays such a lack of expertise.”
“E-cigarettes have precisely the key advantage of not containing any tobacco, which obviously means that no tobacco is burnt during the consumption of these products.”
With smoking being responsible for an estimated 700,000 deaths in the EU every year, advocates continue to insist that vaping could be the best way of delivering nicotine to those struggling to quit.
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