Documents leaked earlier this month pertaining to the EC’s “Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan” (EBCP), indicated a goal of creating a ‘tobacco-free generation’ by 2040. According to these documents the plan is based on four key pillars: prevention, early diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up care – with seven flagship initiatives and a number of supporting actions.

The official draft was presented to Europe’s Health Ministers yesterday, on the 16th of March, allowing for an exchange of views on the plan. Meanwhile, the document has raised alarm amongst Europe’s tobacco harm reduction and vaping groups.

Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan is a historic chance to beat cancer and the Commission is about to botch it. Vaping is not the same as smoking and treating the two as the same is a mistake that could prevent thousands of smokers from quitting. What we have seen in the leaked plan is very concerning and I hope that the version announced will correct this flawed approach,” said World Vapers Association (WVA) Director, Michael Landl.

A recent press release by the WVA had explained that the EC’s Europe Beating Cancer Plan looks to:

  • extend taxation to “novel tobacco products”, including vaping
  • extend the coverage of the smoking bans indoor and outdoor to e-cigarettes
  • ban flavours.

The EBCP is counterproductive to public health

Discussing the EBCP ahead of yesterday’s meeting, Landl explained that it will be counterproductive to public health. “Today is a litmus test for the Commission. They are bringing the Cancer Plan in front of health ministers from all EU countries, people directly responsible for the well-being of the public health systems in their own countries. I fear, however, that public health will suffer rather than improve if the proposals on vaping from the EU plan are implemented.”

Flavour bans are likely to send millions of vapers back to smoking throughout Europe, so will higher taxes on much less harmful products. The ministers need to understand that vaping is not smoking and look to examples from countries like the UK and New Zealand to efficiently make vaping part of the solution, rather than demonizing it,” he added.

In a submission to the EC, Landl explained that not only does the plan does not adequately consider tobacco and smoking-related cancers, but also shuts the door for smokers trying to quit using novel tobacco products, specifically vaping by picking abstentionism over harm reduction.

Dear Ministers of Heath, 

On 16 March, you will hold an exchange of views on Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan put  forward by the Commission. As Minister of Health and an avid health policy advocate, you  hold an incredible responsibility to cancer patients and European citizens throughout the  union. This is why we are reaching out to you before the upcoming meeting with the EU  Commission. 

We believe that this plan does not adequately consider tobacco and smoking-related  cancers. The plan shuts the door for smokers trying to quit using novel tobacco products,  specifically vaping by picking abstentionism over harm reduction.  

The Commission’s cancer plan has suggested taxing vaping in the same way as tobacco,  banning vaping in public spaces and treating vaping products and vape flavours as the same  as tobacco. This is a misguided and dangerous policy.  

Studies show that vapers are twice as likely to quit smoking permanently than those using  nicotine patches or gums and there is scientific proof that vapers are exposed to 0.4% of the  lifetime cancer risk of smokers. By banning these devices, the Commission’s cancer plan  ignores hundreds of thousands of vapers throughout Europe. 

We, at the World Vapers’ Alliance, know that our 13,000 vapers and 23 partner  organisations are very concerned about the development of vaping legislation at a European  level. If the Commission’s current direction on vaping products is kept, it will lead to  increased smoking rates and curb any progress that has been made towards a cancer-free  society. This plan would also have regulatory knock-on effects around the world. Therefore,  we urge you to push back on the EU Commission’s current version of the Plan, because it  would have catastrophic consequences for public health as you can see in the document  attached.  

Recommendations 

The EU Commission’s Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan ignores all the scientific evidence and  facts on vaping, as well as the testimonies from former smokers, which prove that vaping is  much less harmful than smoking.  

New research shows that better regulation of e-cigarettes could save the lives of almost 20  million people in the EU. Therefore, we urge you to stand up against this current version of  the plan and endorse harm reduction and vaping as part of its plan to tackle cancer. Without  vaping the fight against smoking induced cancer will fail.  

What hundreds of thousands vapers want:  

  • A clear commitment to the concept of harm reduction: 

The goal is to reduce the adverse consequences among persons who continue to  use unhealthy products. It was developed in response to the non successful “zero 

tolerance approach”. Instead of idealized goals it puts practical solutions center  stage. Harm reduction has proved to be effective and is accepted in many countries. ● Encourage current smokers to switch to e-cigarettes, like the governments of the  United Kingdom, France Canada and New Zealand. 

● Guarantee access to vaping products for adults: therefore it is essential that  affordability and variety need to be ensured.

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