The European Commission has today missed an opportunity to bolster its Beating Cancer Plan and recognise the importance of vaping in reducing smoking-related diseases among Europeans.
A report from the Scientific Committee on Health, Environmental and Emerging Risks (SCHEER) has failed to compare the risks of electronic cigarette use with the risks of smoking. Such an omission renders the report of little use to policy makers. An assessment of the impact e-cigarettes have had on European public health must be informed by this evidence.
Independent and publicly-funded scientific research has shown beyond any doubt that e-cigarette use is far less harmful than smoking. And much of the scientific community has been highly critical of the SCHEER’s methodology, with concerned researchers penning a critique of a draft version of the report. SCHEER has chosen not to adjust its approach despite the significant flaws and widespread criticism of it.
Dustin Dahlmann, President of IEVA said:
“The SCHEER committee has failed to present scientific data on vaping in a comprehensive and balanced manner. The result is a report that is little more than a series of baseless predetermined assertions. Another opportunity to educate smokers willing to switch to less harmful alternatives has been wasted, and this alone has serious public health implications. We urge decision makers in Brussels to integrate harm reduction in their overall strategy.“
Draft has been widely criticized
An earlier draft of this report was put to public consultation in September 2020 and was widely criticized. Despite this, the final report we have seen today does not deviate from the core findings of the initial draft.
A comprehensive critique of this draft was published in the peer-reviewed Harm Reduction Journal. The authors assert that “the Opinion’s conclusions are not adequately backed up by scientific evidence and did not discuss the potential health benefits of using alternative combustion-free nicotine-containing products as substitute for tobacco cigarettes”.
The Harm Reduction Journal report recommends seven crucial areas that the Committee should have considered in order to address this significant deficit, but SCHEER has decided not to do so. These were:
- the potential health benefits of ENDS substitution for cigarette smoking,
- alternative hypotheses and contradictory studies on the gateway effect,
- its assessment of cardiovascular risk,
- the measurements of frequency of use,
- non-nicotine use,
- the role of flavours, and
- a fulsome discussion of cessation.