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30 June 2021
PREVENT, - Tobacco & Smoking

On 20th May, the European Commission published a report on the implementation of the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD). TPD is the key EU-level legislation governing tobacco and related products since it came into force in 2016. The implementation report is meant, among others, to feed into the upcoming revision of the TPD. This revision is set to be a major milestone for EFA and the whole respiratory community, including those living with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Announced in Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan, the revision of the TPD will be part of a broader list of actions by the Commission to tackle the persistent challenge of cancer. EFA and the patient community we represent will follow the process to ensure that these much-needed actions will be ambitious, timely, and people-centred.

Outcomes and limitations of the Tobacco Products Directive

According to the report, the implementation of the TPD has been an overall success. It has improved public health in certain provisions such as characterising flavours, packaging, and labelling in tobacco products. Also, there is evidence that it has helped increase awareness around the harmful effects of tobacco. The report concludes by acknowledging that the positive outcomes for health could not have been achieved by each Member State acting alone, a testament to the TPD’s added value. 

However, the report identifies several areas for improvement, such as the emerging markets of novel tobacco products and e-cigarettes, which are quite popular especially among young people. Recent developments have revealed inconsistencies in the TPD's provisions on e-cigarettes and novel products, especially regarding their marketing, labelling, and packaging. Therefore, strengthening and adapting the legal provisions of e-cigarettes and novel products is key for the TPD to remain relevant.

Commercialisation of e-cigarettes

While e-cigarettes are a new field of research, there is growing evidence revealing their adverse effects on health. According to a study by the Scientific Committee on Health, Environmental and Emerging Risks (SCHEER), there are moderate (therefore, far from negligible!) risksof damage to the respiratory tract and links to cardiovascular diseases. In addition, the study found that e-cigarettes play a large role in smoking initiation, contrary to the industry’s claims that they help users quit.

EFA contributed to the SCHEER preliminary opinion on e-cigarettes back in October 2020 and reacted to the outcome. Among other points, we urgently call for further research into the long-term effects of e-cigarettes use, as well as the prohibition of industry practices such as flavouring and colouring. 

EFA patients stand for smokefree environments!

At EFA, we have consistently called for strict tobacco control measures for all types of products that harm our lung health, tobacco-based or not. Our community fully understands the risks of second-hand exposure to tobacco smoke, which is still endemic in many public spaces in Europe. Tobacco use is the main risk factor for COPD mortality, while exposure to tobacco smoke can exacerbate asthma symptoms.

EFA continues to work both individually, and with the European Network for Smoking Prevention and Control (of whom we are members), to ensure the proper implementation of the Framework Convention of Tobacco Control (FCTC) at the national level, including the expansion of 100% smoke-free environments. Finally, we strongly support information-sharing among EU Member States on best practices in smoking cessation. 

You can read EFA's contribution to the SCHEER preliminary opinion on e-cigarettes here, and EFA's response to the outcome here.

You can access the Commission’s TPD Implementation Report here. A study in support of the report can be found here.