European Vaping Consultation: Shape the Future of Vaping in Europe
A European Commission public consultation on the legislative framework for tobacco products is underway and will accept responses until May 16. The consultation—the second part of a process that began in 2022—launched in late February.
Targeting E-Cigarettes and Low-Risk Nicotine Products
While the consultation seeks comments on all tobacco products, it is clearly aimed at introducing harsher regulation for e-cigarettes and other low-risk nicotine products. Comments solicited will be used to shape changes to the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) and possibly the Tobacco Advertising Directive.
Deliberate Anti-Vaping Bias in the Consultation
The consultation itself was deliberately written to elicit anti-vaping responses, according to sources quoted in a Vejpkollen story. But it is the only tool European vapers and other nicotine product users have available to prevent the adoption of prohibitionist vaping laws.
The High Stakes of Consumer Input
EC Heading Toward Prohibition Without Input
The last time the European Union updated the TPD, in 2014, vaping advocates engaged in a battle royale to prevent e-cigarettes from being regulated as medical devices. And, even though that fate was averted, legislators imposed a number of pointless vaping restrictions like tank and bottle size limits, and 20 mg/mL (2 percent) maximum nicotine strength.
The Unwelcome Rules at Risk
Unless vapers and users of nicotine pouches, CBD and heated tobacco products make their voices heard now, they are likely to face even more unwelcome rules—including flavor and online sales bans, a minimum age increase, and a ban on internet advertising.
The Policy Documents Behind TPD Changes
Those are among the recommendations in the policy documents the commission will use to justify TPD changes. The SCHEER Report, the report on the application of the Tobacco Products Directive, and Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan all ignored consumer input and the opinions of scientists and policy experts who advocated for harm reduction in EU tobacco policy, and instead relied on cherry-picked science from hardline anti-nicotine sources.
Consequences of Adopting These Policies
Some of these policies have already been adopted by individual EU countries, including flavor bans and excessive taxes. If they become EU law, all member countries will be forced to implement them.
TPD Revisions and Public Input
The commission is expected to adopt a final proposal for TPD revisions next year. But the direction the EC takes will be decided well before the final proposal is published, and public input must be considered.
How to Make Your Voice Heard
Participating in the Consultation
European Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates (ETHRA)—an umbrella group of consumer THR advocacy groups—has provided a step-by-step guide for EU citizens completing the consultation.
The Importance of Public Response
According to ETHRA, the current consultation is “one of the most important to date.” In order to have a serious impact on future EU tobacco policy, ETHRA says public responses must meet or exceed the 24,000 received for Part 1 of the consultation last year.
The Time is Now: Consultation Deadline
The good news is there’s still plenty of time. The consultation runs till May 16.
Current Response Rate and Its Impact
The bad news is, with just five weeks to go in the 12-week response period, only about a quarter of ETHRA’s goal has been achieved—5,882 responses. Of those, about half have come from just Germany and Italy. Some EU countries that have faced major internal fights over vaping and nicotine product policy have registered almost no participation in the consultation, including less than 25 each from Estonia, the Netherlands, Finland, Belgium, and Poland.
Stakeholder Consultations: The Final Phase
The third part of the three-part TPD revision process will be stakeholder consultations, to be held by invitation immediately after the public consultation. ETHRA expects to participate, as will selected representatives of the vaping industry. But those meetings will almost certainly be weighted toward influential European public health and tobacco control agencies—none of which favor liberal vaping and nicotine product laws—and that makes a strong public response doubly important.
The future of vaping in Europe is at stake, and the European Commission’s public consultation is the platform to voice concerns and opinions. It is essential for vapers and users of nicotine pouches, CBD, and heated tobacco products to act now, as their input will significantly influence the direction of EU tobacco policy. The deadline is fast approaching, and a strong public response is crucial to counterbalance the influence of anti-vaping organizations and policies.
- What is the European Commission public consultation? The European Commission public consultation is an opportunity for EU citizens to voice their opinions on tobacco products, specifically focusing on e-cigarettes and low-risk nicotine products. The consultation aims to shape changes to the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) and possibly the Tobacco Advertising Directive.
- When is the deadline for the public consultation? The deadline for the public consultation is May 16.
- Why is it important to participate in the consultation? Participating in the consultation is crucial because the European Commission is leaning toward harsher regulations on vaping and low-risk nicotine products. Public input will play a significant role in influencing the direction of the EU tobacco policy.
- What are the possible consequences if these policies are adopted? If these policies are adopted, vapers and users of nicotine pouches, CBD, and heated tobacco products may face more unwelcome rules, including flavor and online sales bans, a minimum age increase, and a ban on internet advertising.
- What is the role of European Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates (ETHRA)? ETHRA is an umbrella group of consumer THR advocacy groups that have provided a step-by-step guide for EU citizens to complete the consultation. They emphasize the importance of public responses in shaping the future of EU tobacco policy.