The dispute between vape supporters and the European Union enters a new phase with the deadline of May 20, 2021.
By this day, the Commission will review Article 28 of the Tobacco Products Directive and submit it to the European Parliament for final ratification, in what is expected a “game-changer” for the sector.
It is also a major step for future regulation of electronic cigarettes and the development of Tobacco Harm Reduction policies in Europe.
The Directive, in force from May 19, 2014, established for the first time common regulation on tobacco products for EU members. Among the rules, the prohibition of promotional and misleading elements on tobacco products, electronic cigarettes, and smoking products within the European Union.
In February 2019, to adapt the Directive to the most recent scientific studies on vaping and to evaluate the effectiveness of the electronic cigarette as an alternative to conventional cigarette, the Commission designated the Scientific Committee for Health, the Environment, and Emerging Risks (SCHEER)for the draft of a paper as a “scientific opinion on e-cigarettes.“
A preliminary report, published on 23 September 2020, stated electronic cigarettes are only partially effective as an alternative and less harmful than traditional cigarette. The text also indicated e-cigarettes as a gateway for young people to start smoking.
“The European Commission cannot close its eyes to an instrument that has already shown great success and has been included in national guidelines to fight smoke addiction” commented Umberto Roccatti, President of ANAFE Confindustria.
“Those who started using the electronic cigarette in a highly regulated market such as the Italian and European one did so because they decided to quit smoking or at least to reduce the use of traditional tobacco” he added.
Harm Reduction experts (supporters of electronics as a tool that helps those who can’t do it by themselves) immediately criticized the EU study, accusing the Commission of “blindness” to the numerous scientific evidence already published on this topic.
In particular, a paper signed by Riccardo Polosa (the most productive author worldwide in the field of Ecig research and founder of CoEHAR of the University of Catania) together with Giovanni Li Volti (director of CoEHAR) and Renèe O’Leary (project leader of In Silico Science) in the prestigious Harm Reduction Journal has publicly denounced the information provided by the Scheer.
According to the researchers, the conclusions by the Commission did not take into account the individual health benefits of using electronic cigarettes compared to conventional ones. Furthermore – according to the authors – the evaluations on the cardiovascular risk and the risk of initiation of young people to smoke have been “considered in a superficial way and without adequate scientific evidence“.
“Our criticism of SCHEER’s preliminary results regarding e-cigarettes focuses on its surprising omission of any assessment of the harm reduction studies” said Prof. Polosa.
“As scientists, we expect the final report to be more effective and accurate. This is crucial because the document will have a major influence on the revision of the EU Tobacco Products Directive and the future regulation of e-cigarettes. Any initiative contrary to the protection of European public health will be opposed based on scientific data that demonstrate epochal results in the fight against smoking.”