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17 December 2020
Asthma , COPD
PREVENT, - Tobacco & Smoking

The Scientific Committee on Health, Environmental and Emerging Risks (SCHEER), organised a public consultation on its preliminary opinion on electronic cigarettes. EFA responded to the consultation to inform the European Commission about the perspectives that allergy and airways diseases patients have about e-cigarettes in Europe

Supported by the European Commission’s Directorate-Geenral Health and Food Safety, SCHEER is an independent committee offering scientific advice for policy and proposals related to health and the environment.

The consultation set out to gather input for the Commission’s implementation report on Tobacco Products Directive, due in May 2021. It will also assist the Commission to identify any need for potential amendment of the current legislative framework.

The consultation looked specifically at the use and adverse health effects of e-cigarettes, their role as a gateway to smoking/the initiation of smoking, and their role in cessation of traditional tobacco smoking.

EFA positions in favour of stricter policies on e-cigarettes

EFA welcomed this consultation as a timely initiative to captures the latest science and realities of e-cigarettes. We firmly believe that there is an emerging need to better understand their impact on health, both from the user’s and the non-user’s perspective, based on scientific evidence.

However, we noted the side-lining of the evidence on the impact of e-cigarette use on lung and respiratory health. This is despite solid evidence linking e-cigarettes use with negative respiratory health outcomes, especially in the long term. Meanwhile, EFA urgently calls for more research on the impacts of the long-term use of e-cigarettes and its health outcomes.

We also call for 100% smoke-free environments to mitigate indoor air pollution. Passive exposure to e-cigarette emissions create an increased risk for respiratory health, including in certain inflammatory biomarkers.

The increase in use follows the market share

Surveys reveal an uptake of e-cigarette use among youth in different parts of the world. In Europe, this has been the result of increased marketisation: a Eurobarometer survey showed that 1 in 4 young people have tried e-cigarettes at least once. Further, smoking initiation through e-cigarettes increased in Europe between 2012 and 2014, prompting a broad discussion about the role of e-cigarettes as a gateway to smoking.

EFA believes that e-cigarettes and other related smoking products should be regulated in the same, or a stricter, way as the tobacco products covered in the current Directive. This includes prohibiting industry practices such as flavourings.

EFA is a long-time supporter of stricter policies on e-cigarettes

Since the adoption of the revised Tobacco Products Directive in 2014, EFA has called for the need to establish clear policies restricting e-cigarettes use on the following basic principles:

  • Ban the use of e-cigarettes in all public places where smoking is not allowed
  • Regulate electronic cigarettes with and without nicotine in the same way
  • Strictly regulate flavours to limit vaping among children and young people
  • The full implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC)

You can access the full EFA response to the SCHEER opinion in this link.

To review the consultation please visit the European Commission website, where you will also find the draft SCHEER opinion on electronic cigarettes.