Head of the cabinet of EU Health Commissioner Arūnas Vinčiūnas, was speaking at an event last month, in which participants called for a broader dialogue with policymakers on sensitive health topics like tobacco. When asked why the Commission had systematically refused to meet with tobacco industry representatives to discuss safer alternatives during the current term, Vinčiūnas said that there is a reluctance towards the industry, also saying that there are better ways to quit smoking than via vaping.
“There are scientific reports saying that e-cigarettes are less harmful than cigarettes,” he said about e-cigarettes. “But it’s still tobacco. You can drink less poison, but it is still poison in the end,” he stated inaccurately.
Spreading false information
EU Health Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis is also sceptical about vaping products. During a speech in Athens earlier this week, he attacked the devices, saying he is worried that an increasing number of young people across Europe are using them. “We cannot deny the reality. We cannot go on pretending that e-cigarettes are for smoking cessation when we see so many young people starting to smoke them,” he said.
Sadly, this is a tragic example of the damage done as a result of vaping products being associated with the tobacco industry. On the other hand spreading such misinformation about e-cigarettes is keeping thousands of smokers in the dark about their relative benefits.
In fact in line with countless studies before it, a recent study from Greece and published in BMC: Harm Reduction Journal, has indicated that the Health Commissioner’s claims couldn’t be further from the truth, as the majority of local e-cigarette users are former smokers.
Scientific evidence tells a different story
The study titled Electronic cigarette use in Greece: an analysis of a representative population sample in Attica prefecture, was led by renowned public health and anti-smoking researcher and expert Dr. Konstantinos E. Farsalinos. The aim of the research was assessing prevalence and correlates of electronic cigarette use in Greece during 2017.
The results obtained indicated that the majority of current e-cigarette users were former smokers at 62.2%, whilst only 0.2% were never smokers. Amongst those who had ever tried e-cigarettes, 54.1% were found to be current smokers, 24.1% were ex-smokers, and 6.5% had never smoked.
Read Further: Euractiv