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Europe's Beating Cancer Plan

To beat cancer in Europe, let’s give vaping a chance

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The European Union’s Beating Cancer plan is our once-in-a-generation opportunity to tackle cancer by embracing innovation and consumer choice...

By following the footsteps of the UK, France, Australia, and New Zealand, we can further achieve our goals by endorsing vaping as a harm reduction tool with incredible potential to help reduce health-associated risks. By doing so, the EU could ensure a better future for smokers.

It has been stressed many times that vaping has been proven to be 95% less harmful than smoking. And yet, despite the sound evidence at hand, anti-vaping rhetoric persists and continues to win the hearts and minds of European policymakers. However, in order to develop the most efficient and effective policies to tackle cancer, it is crucial to stay open-minded, and we should always be led by science over ideology.

Smoking-induced cancer takes nearly 700,000 lives every year in the EU, and various marketing schemes and branding restrictions haven’t succeeded in reducing these numbers. When conventional methods don’t work, innovation in the form of vaping must be embraced.

Unlike traditional cigarettes that create more than 7,000 chemicals when burned, 69 of which have been identified as potential carcinogens, vape liquids’ compounds are common food ingredients deemed safe and not harmful by regulatory bodies including the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). Moreover, when compared to other alternatives in getting people to quit, including Nicotine Replace Therapy (NRT) patches and drugs, vaping has been found to be twice as effective.  

Vaping has the potential to drive down smoking-induced cancer rates significantly. The cancer risk of vaping relative to smoking is 0.4% according to a study conducted by the University of St. Andrews. The additional lifetime cancer risk for an e-cigarette user is 0,0095% compared to 2,4% of a smoker found by the same study. At present,t the European Union has 140 million smokers and many of them struggle to quit. Therefore, we need every possible method available to them to make quitting easier. We must expand their choices.

Consumer choice is more than an empty economic term: it is an essential part of our individual pursuit of what we perceive to be best for us, and the ability to do so voluntarily. The Europe Beating Cancer plan is a chance for Europe to inform smokers about vaping and how it can assist them in their efforts to quit. Another important part of the plan should be to actively encourage smokers to switch to vaping and guarantee access to vaping products for adults. 

Since it is impossible to change consumers’ smoking behaviour with a stick - not least because it is inhumane to disregard our freedom to choose - we need to go with encouragement and correct information as our main strategy. 

Creating and sustaining conditions under which adult smokers are able to switch to healthier options such as e-cigarettes is not only a forward-looking solution but also the one that would demonstrate the European Commission’s commitment to tackling cancer without undermining consumer choice. Europe’s Beating Cancer plan should become not just a policy roadmap, but also manifest Europe’s openness to innovation and recognition of freedom as the highest value. Smokers and future generations would be eternally grateful.

By Maria Chaplia, European Affairs Associate for the Consumer Choice Center, and Michael Landl, the Director of the World Vapers’ Alliance.

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