Paris, 29 November 2023 – Following the announcement of France’s new National Tobacco Control Program (PNLT) for 2023-2027 by Health Minister Aurélien Rousseau, the World Vapers’ Alliance (WVA) acknowledges the positive steps towards ending tobacco smoking, however, expresses concern over the lack of a comprehensive harm reduction strategy.
The PNLT plan includes measures such as limiting accessibility to tobacco products by raising prices on cigarettes, introducing plain packaging on cigarettes and vaping products, and further extending smoke-free areas. The program includes points aimed at helping smokers quit by offering personalised support through call centres and strengthening accessibility to Nicotine Replacement Therapies (NRTs).
Michael Landl, Director of the World Vapers’ Alliance, warns of the potential pitfalls of a lack of harm reduction approach within these measures:
“The program falls short in recognising the role of harm reduction. NRT’s are beneficial for some, but they are not the sole solution. Many smokers find them ineffective, unlike alternatives such as vaping, nicotine pouches, and heat-not-burn products. These alternatives have been instrumental in reducing smoking rates and should be a key element of any tobacco control strategy.”
The program’s proposed ban on disposable vapes and restrictions on vaping flavours is particularly worrisome. These measures might counteract the progress made in smoking cessation through vaping, warns World Vapers’ Alliance.
Michael Landl added: “Banning disposable vapes and restricting flavours are steps backwards in the fight against smoking. Such prohibitions only serve to drive consumers either back to smoking or to black markets. We’ve seen time and again that prohibition doesn’t work. France should look to countries like Sweden, where a balanced approach to harm reduction has led to significant public health gains. The French government must recognise the importance of offering a variety of less harmful alternatives to smokers.”
The proposed policy yet needs to be adopted into the law. The WVA urges the French authorities to reconsider these aspects of the program and adopt a more holistic harm reduction approach. By doing so, France can truly lead the way in tobacco control and public health.