ETHRA is comprised of 21 consumer associations in 16 European countries. Launched last May on behalf of 27 million grass roots consumers across Europe who have quit smoking using safer products, the manifesto urged policymakers to recognize the benefits of tobacco harm reduction in advance of World No Tobacco Day.
To this effect the ETHRA Manifesto, a document written by consumers, is promoting sensible and appropriate regulations for the products so that members of the public who wish to continue using safer alternatives in order to quit smoking or reduce harm, are able to do so.
“Tobacco harm reduction refers to public health and other evidence-based policies, designed to lessen the negative social and/or physical consequences associated with smoking. It endorses the use of novel nicotine products and supports research into their safety and efficacy,” explained an ETHTA press release.
“The 21 partners of ETHRA – representing millions of consumers in 16 countries – urge the EU, the WHO, and governments in Europe and beyond to consider these important principles when forming their policies.
- Access to harm reduction, including tobacco harm reduction, must be recognised as a human right.
- Consumers of safer nicotine products must be recognised as essential stakeholders in discussions of policy.
- Regulation for safer nicotine products must reflect the risks relative to the risks from smoking.
- Regulators must recognise that having a wide choice of products and flavours is key to the success of safer nicotine products in enabling people to stop smoking.
- Regulation must consider the harm to adults when considering bans intended to protect youth.
- Tax policy must take into account that high taxation of safer nicotine products increases rates of smoking.”
Why is the WHO fighting tobacco harm reduction?
In Europe, tobacco harm reduction is facing some challenges as the review of the EU Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) is expected to tighten regulations. Additionally, the WHO’s Conference of the Parties will be held in the Netherlands next year. Sadly the WHO-FCTC continues to issue information, reports and guidance that contain several inaccuracies with regards to e-cigarettes. The WHO inaccurately claims that ENDS and smokeless alternatives do not help smokers quit smoking; are more harmful than combustible tobacco; and that nicotine is equivalent to heroin in terms of addictiveness.
Infact, the Director of Kiwi vape association AVCA, Nancy Loucas has recently pointed out that the WHO’s position has been influenced and compromised by vested interests that provide funds to the organisation, such as pharmaceutical companies selling NRTs such as patches.
“This vested interest has coloured the information in order to serve the political and financial interests of Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Gates Foundation who provide nearly half of all the funding for the WHO-FCTC. The WHO is lying to you to protect their own financial interests and keep their private donors happy. They are not objective. They are not focused on their own mandate under FCTC to promote the health of the people and their right to have information to make informed choices regarding their health,” said Loucas in a letter to New Zealand’s Health Ministry.
Consumers of safer alternatives are forced to swim against the current
Sadly, ETHRA concurs. “Regulators should be aware of the overwhelmingly beneficial effect of reduced risk nicotine products to attract smokers away from lit tobacco” said Rob de Lange of ACVODA, a Dutch consumer association and partner of ETHRA, “Smoking rates in countries which regulate alternative nicotine products sensibly have collapsed, yet consumers are constantly fighting against public health organisations who seem to favour an ill-informed precautionary approach which can only perpetuate smoking and protect the most harmful nicotine delivery system of all, the cigarette.”
Peter Stigaard, of Danish consumer association DADAFO said both the EU and the WHO, are fighting tobacco harm reduction rather than tobacco consumption. “Tobacco harm reduction has been an unprecedented success story in enlightened European states, yet the EU and the WHO appear eager to wind back the clock and impose harsh and ill-conceived restrictions on products which are saving lives.”