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Five associations undertake an appeal at the Conseil d’État to contest on the form and substance, and to overturn direct or indirect promotion and advertising ban of vaping products which seriously undermine freedom of speech.

In its desire to regulate vaping and implement the European Tobacco Products Directive, the Government has taken steps that seriously threaten vaper’s and harm-reduction organisations’ freedom of speech. These provisions impair field actions of health care promotion towards smokers in need of information on a safer alternative to tobacco smoking.

These provisions do not allow vapers to discuss ways to avoid potential risks, unproven at present, and to stay informed of the quality and safety of the products.

“Freedom of speech seriously threatened”

Despite numerous warnings from citizens, associations, and health care professionals, the government decided to establish regulations on vaping through a tobacco legislation with measures aligned on tobacco, which expose citizens, associations, health care professionals and businesses to unjustified legal insecurity.

Since May 20, 2016, any communication about vaping products is likely to be sued by anyone with an interest (the State, an association, a tobacconist, a disgruntled neighbor), with a threat of a fine of up to 100,000 euros.

“We feel legitimate to appeal against these draconian provisions”

The associations SOVAPE, FEDERATION ADDICTION, RESPADD, SOS ADDICTIONS, TABAC & LIBERTE, whose purpose is to promote tobacco harm reduction, including by actions of public information, feel legitimate to appeal against these draconian provisions.

Freedom of speech can only be restricted for health protection, however, no evidence of harm is proven up to now. Moreover, it is inconsistent that freedom of speech, which is the foundation of our democratic society is more limited than the right to sell vaping products, and the right to use them. There are obvious health reasons to allow communication on the best way to use these marketed products and to move towards higher-quality products.

The associations take note that tobacco smoking causes 78,000 premature deaths per year in France. By prohibiting all communication on vaping, the government does not allow to open a healthy debate on public health, and on new risk reduction opportunities.

To represent them, the associations have called on the cabinet SPINOSI & SUREAU, lawyers to the Conseil d’État and the Court of Cassation.

SOVAPE will organize a crowd-funding in September in order to cover the upcoming costs of this legal action.

The original document (French) is available on download.