According to the latest Eurobarometer survey, in Luxembourg, a country which is part of the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), 21% of adults smoke tobacco cigarettes.

Data keep indicating that in countries where safer alternatives such as e-cigarettes have been endorsed as smoking cessation tools, smoking rates have dropped dramatically.

Finance minister Pierre Gramegna (DP), who was responding to a parliamentary question about the sales evolution of cigarettes and other tobacco products in the grand duchy, pointed out that in neighbouring France cigarette sales dropped by over 9% following a “sharp rise” in prices of more than €1 per pack.

Gramegna added that cigarette prices did not increase  between 2017 and 2018, nevertheless, there is a steep price differential between Luxembourg and its neighbouring countries, specifically France. In 2018 for example, a cigarette pack in France cost €7.60, a price differential of 80.95% when compared to a pack in Luxembourg.

On the other hand, the authorities are ignoring the positive influence that endorsing the use of safer tobacco alternatives such as vaping products, would have on local smoking rates. Pro-vaping experts in Luxembourg are displeased in observing that on the contrary, due to the limitations brought about by the TDP, options for e-cigarette sales have reduced dramatically.

On the other hand, data keep indicating that in countries like the UK or Sweden, where safer alternatives such as e-cigarettes or snus have been endorsed as smoking cessation tools, smoking rates have dropped dramatically.

Smoking rates across the EU

A chart published in May 2017 by the EU as part of a survey looking into smoking behaviour across the union, lists Bulgaria, Greece and France as the countries with the highest smoking rates at 36%, 35% and 33% respectively. Whilst at the bottom of this list were the Netherlands, Denmark, and the United Kingdom, all at 16%, and finally, Sweden, at an impressive 5%.

Sweden is known for having reached this status by endorsing the use of snus for smoking cessation. Snus is a moist powder tobacco product that is placed under the upper lip for extended periods.

Throughout the EU, this product is only legal in Sweden, Denmark and Norway, and not only has it led to Sweden boasting the lowest smoking rates in Europe, but more importantly also to reporting the lowest rates of lung cancer across the continent.

The ECJ says NO to harm reduction

Being aware of this, in January 2018 a number of harm reduction advocates including the NNA, had appeared in front of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg, to challenge the current snus ban across the European Union. Sadly, however, the Advocate General assigned to the case, Henrik Saugmandsgaard Oe, had upheld the ban.

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