What Do Politicians Think About Electronic Cigarettes?

Looking at what politicians understand about e-cigs

The European Commission put its Beating Cancer plan to the European Parliament to allow the politicians to compile a report detailing amendments and finalising a strategy for the block to combat the scourge of cancer. The plan was widely lambasted by nicotine consumer groups for its poor treatment of vaping and tobacco harm reduction in general. UK group the New Nicotine Alliance was concerned the plan may influence British politicians. Leading analysis organisation ECigIntelligence took a snapshot of MEPs to discover their attitudes and opinions.

ECigIntelligence says: “Our survey was carried out online and anonymously, and all data remains confidential other than in consolidated analysis. The survey was sent to all MEPs (from all member states and political parties) and responses were obtained from over 30 MEPs, representing nearly 5% of the European Parliament.”

The organisation discovered that even in 2021 after over ten years of products being on the market, politicians held a wide variation of knowledge about vaping and other new nicotine products.

Shockingly, a third of those responding admitted to knowing absolutely nothing about electronic cigarettes. Considering they are making decisions that will impact the chances of smokers being able to successfully quit using tobacco products, and directly affect businesses supplying an essential service, questions are being asked about their fitness to perform their job.

ECigIntelligence says that the respondents who said they were knowledgeable about vaping are “far more likely” to consider products to be far less harmful than tobacco when compared with MEPs who had no understanding.

75% of MEPs say that vaping is safer than smoking, but up to one in five thinks that some new nicotine products can be as risky as smoking

The knowledgeable politicians are also those least likely to be undecided about the potential risk posed by e-cigs – while those with no knowledge are quicker to assume that vaping is “at least equally dangerous” as smoking.

Fortunately, the majority of those answering the questions believe that vaping can help smokers quit. Also, the bulk of politicians do not believe in a so-called gateway effect, that vaping would lead non-smokers into tobacco use.

When asked what their opinions mean for the potential regulation of electronic cigarettes, 70% of politicians replied that vape products should be allowed to remain on sale. It’s worrying that 30% clearly don’t share this common-sense belief.

Around half of the MEPs said they thought that advertising rules ought to be identical as it is for tobacco products, which would rule out being able to tell the evidenced-based truth about vaping and harm reduction to current smokers.

ECigIntelligence concluded: “While the negative attitudes still held by a substantial minority of MEPs may be depressing to some in the industry, public health and the vaping world, the good news is that it is clear how to address them: at least in Brussels, more informed politicians are generally more sympathetic ones. And with progress towards the next incarnation of the EU Tobacco Products Directive now building up steam, this may be a key time to ensure that fair and accurate information is communicated to policymakers, not only on vaping but also on heated tobacco and other new nicotine products.”

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