“Tobacco use, in particular cigarette smoking, is the main risk factor for cancer death in Europe.”
Every year, three million people in Europe develop cancer, with the disease being the second leading cause of death across the continent. “Europe’s beating cancer plan aims to reduce the cancer burden for patients, their families and health systems. It will address cancer related inequalities between and within Member States with actions to support, coordinate and complement Member States’ efforts.”
Nowadays, it is of course widely accepted that smoking is one of the main causes of cancer, with approximately 90% of lung cancers alone able to be prevented by eliminating tobacco use. In fact, Sweden, which boasts the lowest smoking rates in Europe due to the local widespread use of snus as an alternative to cigarettes, also has the lowest rates of lung cancer across the continent.
To this effect, Prof. Dr. Heino Stöver from the Institute for Addiction Research at the Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences, together with a number of renowned scientists and medical experts, have conducted an extensive study on tobacco consumption & harm reduction in Germany.
Amongst other things, the resulting paper discussed the local status quo and listed data with regards to local tobacco harm reduction perceptions. The researchers found that sadly the current level of German consumers with regards to safer alternatives leaves much to be desired.
“..we discussed the status quo in Germany and found that the current level of knowledge of consumers about less harmful alternatives to tobacco (for example e-cigarettes, tobacco heaters, tobacco-free nicotine products) is insufficient – especially among smokers. In addition, we have addressed widespread misunderstandings, such as that long-term consequences are currently not foreseeable or that e-cigarettes are an entry point for young people and non-smokers,” said Prof. Dr. Heino Stöver in an email.
No worrying teen vaping trends observed in Germany
“The available research results indicate no increase amongst the youth and non-smokers and show that, according to current risk assessment, e-cigarettes are less harmful than continued smoking.”
In line with arguments by countless other experts in the field (and contrary to sensationalist media reports from the US), the Professor pointed out that research indicates no worrying vaping trends amongst teens and non-smokers.
“In addition, we have addressed widespread misunderstandings, such as that long-term consequences are currently not foreseeable or that e-cigarettes are an entry point for young people and non-smokers. The available research results indicate no increase amongst the youth and non-smokers and show that, according to current risk assessment, e-cigarettes are less harmful than continued smoking.”
The Professor and his colleagues said that it is regrettable that tobacco harm reduction is not given much acknowledgment despite the lives it could save. “It is with regret that we note that a harm reduction-strategy is currently not sufficiently taken into account in the debate. However, based on the information available, we think that harm reduction can play an important role in the fight against cancer as it has been shown to help prevent cancer. Therefore, we remain committed to promoting that harm reduction will be included in the European plan to fight cancer.”
Inputs of the Special Committee on Beating Cancer
Meanwhile, the Special Committee on Beating Cancer (BECA) has recently met for the second time, for an exchange of views with Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides. It was once again emphasized that tobacco use, in the form of cigarette smoking is the main risk factor for cancer death within Europe.
As part of the Committee’s work, a draft document on Inputs of the Special Committee on Beating Cancer (BECA) to influence the future Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan was released by the Committee.
“Tobacco use, in particular cigarette smoking, is the main risk factor for cancer death in Europe. Various measures to fight against smoking appear heterogeneous and inconsistently implemented. Overall, the WHO Europe region is the global area with the highest tobacco consumption, with major discrepancies between Member States, as the proportion of smokers varies by a factor of up to 5 from one country to another,” reads an excerpt from the document.
The need for new tobacco harm reduction approaches
Director of the World Vapers’ Alliance (WVA), Michael Landl, said that it is time new tobacco harm reduction approaches are endorsed. “To succeed in its mission, the BECA committee and the European Parliament must be brave enough to endorse new approaches. Vapers across Europe are calling on policymakers to recognise the benefits of vaping, and its potential to massively reduce the harm of smoking. Policymakers cannot ignore the facts any longer.”
“We appreciate the commitment from MEP Mrs. Véronique Trillet-Lenoir and the entire Special Committee on Beating Cancer to fight smoking-related cancer. The Europe Beating Cancer Plan needs to endorse vaping as an effective tool to help smokers move to a safer alternative. That’ Back vaping, beat cancer!”