Electronic cigarettes and new tobacco products have been around for more than a decade in the EU as an alternative to smoking, which kills nearly 700,000 people each year. But these are still controversial issues, and the EU is still hesitant about how to deal with them legally.
According to the latest Eurobarometer survey in 2020, one in seven respondents (14%) have tried at least electronic cigarettes, which are mainly used by smokers.
“Of course, smokers can be much more likely than those who have never smoked or tried e-cigarettes (36% of smokers, 8% of non-smokers).” Says the report.
“Almost half (47%) of those surveyed who tried to quit smoking also tried e-cigarettes, compared to 30% of those who did not quit,” the report adds.
Next month, the European Commission will publish a long-awaited report on the implementation of the 2014 Toiletries Directive (TPD), which will determine whether e-cigarettes will be treated the same as traditional tobacco.
However, its preliminary opinion, published in September 2020, drew strong criticism from several stakeholders who accused the EU of selecting its conclusions regarding its health effects.
EURACTIV has seen another study supporting the evaluation of TPD. It is also very careful with electronic cigarettes and new tobacco products. According to the survey, the current market size for electronic cigarettes and new tobacco products is relatively small, but has quadrupled since the entry into force of the current TPD.
The study pointed out that the EU directive has problems maintaining its relevance for innovative and innovative products, for example with regard to marketing and sales methods, packaging and labeling requirements.
“Therefore, tightening and adapting regulations on these products can help ensure that TPD remains relevant for future market development,” the study says.
According to Dr Konstantinos Farsalinos, a pharmacy at the University of Patras in Greece, some scientific communities consider the EU’s preventive approach to e-cigarettes to be excessively or “biased”.
“Recent studies have consistently been increasingly positive on e-cigarettes as an alternative to smoking since the adoption of the TDP in 2014. The EU’s assessment of the science is biased, as the SCHEER report shows. “It has been done,” Dr Farsalinos told EURACTIV.
He mentioned a study that suggests that even vascular function improves as soon as someone quits smoking and switches to e-cigarettes, whether or not someone uses nicotine in e-cigarettes.
“We expect a more positive attitude compared to 2014. On the contrary, EU policymakers remain scientifically unfounded about the risks of interfering with efforts to replace smoking with electronic cigarettes,” he said. -he declares. Said.
Farsalinos also rejected the argument that e-cigarettes are the “gateway” for non-smokers to start smoking, citing the United States, where e-cigarette use is on the rise. “The United States is heading for a non-smoking generation. Smoking rates have been declining every year since 2010. […] They do not increase as expected if there was a gateway effect. “
Experts argued that there should be rules that make electronic cigarettes more attractive than cigarettes.
“Obviously, we don’t want this product to be attractive to teenagers. We must impose a ban on young people, but making it expensive is a smoker. It hurts more, ”he said.
“Electronic cigarettes should be the third option to quit smoking. If you can’t stop it yourself or with the help of your doctor, ”he said while smoking with cigarettes and electronic cigarettes. There is no reason to start a person.
EURACTIV also contacted the European Network for Smoking and Tobacco Control, saying industry-funded research was unreliable.
“We cannot believe that for-profit funded research will show results to their advantage,” said Cornel Radu-Loghin of the NPHS.
Talking about the idea of ”less harmful,” “let’s clarify here. These products are even” more harmful “and still harmful. Remember that the word” harmful “always stays in” less harmful “. As far as we know , we are not talking about “safe” products. “
He states that the SCHEER report makes it clear that “electronic cigarettes are relatively new in terms of human exposure. More research is needed, especially for long-term health effects. ” It was.
“Of course, we have never advertised a consumer product that we still know is harmful.”
When asked if he viewed e-cigarettes as a way to quit smoking, he replied in the negative.
“Evidence-based and well-researched solutions at the level of smokers (educational programs, environmental regulations for smoking cessation, pharmacological and behavioral support) as well as at the government level to help people quit traditional smoking. There is a lot of. Stop smoking, ”he said, referring to the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, national strategies and plans.
He added that smoking is a physical addiction and a psychological habit, and that the idea behind quitting smoking is not to switch to another dangerous product, but to quit smoking forever. I did.
“Tobacco / vapor smokers are a thriving business with an addiction to people and they make money by enticing people to buy their harmful products. They encourage people to quit smoking or to quit smoking. I’m not interested in smoking, ”he said.
“The more people stop smoking electronic cigarettes, the more money they will lose. It’s mathematical, and for these industries, keeping people addicted is a matter of survival. This is why they are so aggressive. Don’t be fooled by their fake marketing that wants to help smokers because they are also aggressive, ”he concludes.
Europe accounts for around 25% of cancer deaths worldwide, which is far more than what we need. And many of the causes are lifestyle related.
“So it really needs to be improved in terms of style, tobacco, alcohol, poor diet, etc.
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