ETHRA (European Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates) has written to the European Parliament’s Special Committee on Beating Cancer (BECA) “to outline the important role tobacco harm reduction can play in achieving the goal of reducing cancer in Europe.”
The European Parliament’s Special Committee on Beating Cancer (BECA) was set up in September 2020 and is comprised of 63 MEPs, 33 full members and 30 substitutes. The aim of the committee is to examine actions the EU can take to tackle cancer proposing actions at every key stage of the disease: prevention, diagnosis, treatment, life as a cancer survivor and palliative care.
The draft report on Beating Cancer was finally published on the 25th of June, and to dismay of tobacco harm reduction experts, it failed to recognize the potential of vaping in the fight against smoking-induced cancer. At the time, the director of the [World Vapers’ Alliance] (WVA) Michael Landl, highlighted that the document is an improvement on the European Commission’s draft, which leaves the door open for flavour bans and higher taxes, but by ignoring the potential of vaping products it still misses the mark.
Similarly, the ETHRA feels that the report repeats a key failing of Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan by failing to differentiate between combustible and non-combustible products. Actions to tackle smoking which are recommended in the draft report (pages 6 & 7) include: “an increase in minimum excise duties for all tobacco products, which could result in a reduction in tobacco use, notably among young people; and a ban on flavourings in all tobacco products to reduce the appeal of these products to non-smokers and young people.”
The essential role of tobacco harm reduction
To this effect, ETHRA and its partners wrote to all members of BECA to outline the important role that tobacco harm reduction can play in achieving the goal of reducing cancer in Europe, by encouraging adult smokers to quit smoking by switching to lower risk smoke free alternatives. The letter highlighted that the consequences of making smoke free alternatives less accessible, less appealing, and more expensive, will result in an increase in smoking.
MEPs were expected to table amendments to the report by 14 September. Consideration of amendments was expected to take place on the 14th of October, with a second reading on the 8th of November. The actual vote is believed to have taken place last month.