French Health Minister endangers 1.6 million ex-smokers

Paris, 15 February 2023: Up to 1.6 million former smokers could be forced to switch back to smoking if the French Government accepts the National Committee Against Smoking (CNCT) recommendation to ban vaping flavours. The CNCT recommended on Monday to enforce a ban on vaping flavours, and the French Minister of Health, François Braun, voiced his approval of the proposal – although it goes against the recommendations of the official Cancer Institute of France, which recommends vaping to smokers as a tool to quit.

Michael Landl, Director of the World Vapers’ Alliance, commented: 

“Minister Braun seems to be highly misinformed regarding harm-reduction and vaping. Banning flavours could force hundreds of thousands of former smokers in France to take up the habit once again. Research shows vapers are more than twice as likely to quit with flavours. If they are banned, many vapers would be pushed back to smoking or the illicit market. This would be a major setback in the fight against smoking and its related illnesses.”

“It is worrying that the minister is ignoring the advice of the Cancer Institute and many international studies. He should base his policies on science and real-life experience of millions of consumers instead of anti-vaping scaremongering.”

The CNCT, which is Government supported and funded by the Ministry of Health, wants to ban flavours arguing that they are a gateway for teenagers and young adults. However, this effect has not been demonstrated, and there is evidence that factors other than flavours are to blame for teenage nicotine consumption. Most adolescents try vaping after having already started smoking, and regular vaping is very rare among teenagers who are non-smokers. A flavour ban in France will not reduce youth nicotine use, but it will have a substantial negative impact on those adults who use vaping flavours to quit smoking.

According to the Yale School of Public Health, vaping flavoured e-cigarettes are associated with a 230% increase in the odds of adult smoking cessation. By not reminding vapers of the taste of cigarettes, flavours are more likely to keep people off traditional cigarettes. 

More than two-thirds of adults are using other flavours than tobacco. That means bans could send many back to cigarettes or the black market. A flavour ban in San Francisco resulted in rising teenage smoking rates for the first time in decades.  

Therefore, banning flavours would have a profoundly negative effect on society. Vaping is a highly effective smoking cessation tool. It is considered 95% less harmful than cigarettes, and flavours are integral to their success.

“Countries who fight vaping and similar products are losing the fight against smoking because they refuse to acknowledge scientific facts and real-world evidence. Forty-five thousand deaths per year in France due to smoking should be reason enough to embrace harm reduction instead of fighting it. It is time for politicians to get on board with harm reduction – for the sake of public health and millions of smokers in France and worldwide,” concluded Landl.


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Vaping can save 200 million lives and flavours play a key role in helping smokers quit. However, policymakers want to limit or ban flavours, putting our effort to end smoking-related deaths in jeopardy.

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