The best way to reduce smoking rates is by encouraging smokers to make informed choices and switch to new, reduced-risk categories while protecting non-smokers and young people – that’s the view of European Parliament member (MEP) Aldo Patriciello.
And according to the Italian, who sits in the European People’s Party (EPP) group, the best model for countries to follow is that of Sweden.
“Thanks to this mixed approach of developing e-cigarettes, heated tobacco and nicotine pouches, Sweden has reached 6% smoking incidence – the lowest in Europe and among the best in the world. The approach to these products must be pragmatic, and based on scientific data,” he said.
Patriciello’s views echo similar comments from Swedish MEP Jessica Polfjard also of the EPP group, who told ECigIntelligence that if snus were allowed in the rest of Europe as it was in Sweden, it might offer smokers a less harmful alternative to traditional tobacco products.
Patriciello favours product regulations that protect minors and non-smokers and don’t encourage initiation.
“It is now clear that reduced-risk products are less harmful than traditional cigarettes. Therefore, we support the development of different legislation concerning combustion products,” he said.
“New generation products should receive favourable regulation compared to cigarettes in order not to discourage those who have already made this transition. The same concept applies to heated tobacco – taking into account all the precautions since it is, after all, a tobacco product.”
Too early to predict
According to Patriciello, a ban on flavours would be “unreasonable”, since he believes that smokers should be given all the help they need to quit the habit.
“A balanced regulation which on the one hand does not encourage young people and non-smokers to start but on the other does not penalise ex-smokers that have moved on to new categories would be best,” he said.
However, he believes it is too early to predict the result of the debate on the future direction of the EU Tobacco Products Directive (TPD), since the impact analysis phase is still ongoing. “We will talk about it again after the European elections,” he said.
In similar vein, Czech MEP Radka Maxová, a member of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D), told ECigIntelligence that research did not support a ban on flavoured heat-not-burn (HnB) products.
She said she expected strict regulation of tobacco to be extended to alternative products such as e-cigarettes and heated tobacco – “but it is impossible for me to say what the final regulation will look like.”
– Antonia Di Lorenzo ECigIntelligence staff