Some members of the European Parliament (MEPs) are hoping to introduce the concept of harm reduction into a strategy report by the Special Committee on Beating Cancer (BECA), but the idea has not yet been officially endorsed.
Today is the deadline for tabling amendments and at least three Italian MEPs have submitted proposals to modify the draft report, which was published in June in response to the Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan launched by the European Commission earlier this year.
Pietro Fiocchi of the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) has presented an amendment concerning Article 8 of the draft report, welcoming “the Commission’s intention to review the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD), the Tobacco Products Tax Directive and the legal framework on cross-border purchases of tobacco by private individuals”. The article highlights the Commission’s commitment “to evaluate health risks related to e-cigarettes and the establishment of a list of substances contained and emitted by these products at European level”.
Fiocchi’s amendment, which has been seen by ECigIntelligence, proposes adding that the committee requires the Commission to review the reduced risks of tobacco alternatives, “taking into account the most recent scientific evidence”.
Fiocchi also proposed deleting parts of the draft that refer to increasing the minimum excise duties on tobacco products and a possible ban on flavours.
The BECA draft report calls on the Commission to implement a flavour ban on all tobacco products in the coming revision of the TPD “to reduce the appeal of these products to non-smokers and young people”.
The ECR’s Silvia Sardone tabled an amendment to Article 8 to say the Commission should bear in mind the positive role of tobacco-alternative products “in reducing cancer risk”. Sardone said there was a need to investigate “both the positive and negative impact these products have on human health to assess an appropriate regulation”.
Meanwhile, Aldo Patriciello of the European People’s Party (EPP) wants a new paragraph to be inserted, calling on the Commission to introduce harm reduction strategies based on independent scientific evidence as part of efforts to reduce smoking rates. It reads: “As part of a comprehensive strategy, harm reduction should play a role without undermining the target of preventing children from starting to use alternative products like e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products and of course tobacco.”
Powers of persuasion needed
A BECA Secretariat spokesperson told ECigIntelligence the amendments would be presented at a meeting on 14th October. The discussion will take place on 8th November, with the final vote by all 63 members of the committee due on 6th December. However, those dates could be back.
Fiocchi said he was optimistic that the amendments related to harm reduction would be approved, but admitted there was work yet to be done to convince the rest of the committee. “We need a network of MEPs to reach the majority and get the approval, and till the vote we still have time to work on it,” he said.
Fiocchi said that aside from his own political group the amendments might receive the support of the Identity and Democracy Group (ID) and the European People’s Party Group (EPP), but admitted that this might not be enough. “It would be essential to figure out what the S&D [Socialists and Democrats] and Renew Europe [liberals] are going to do,” he said.
Before tabling the amendments, the Italian MEPs had formal meetings with vaping associations including the Italian National Association of United Vapers (ANPVU).
What This Means: Soon we will know the final number of proposed amendments to the BECA report and whether other parties such as the S&D, Renew Europe or The Greens will present any proposals of their own related to harm reduction.
EU health commissioner Stella Kyriakides has highlighted several times the importance of this parliamentary committee and it is likely that the final version of its report will have a direct bearing on the forthcoming revision of the TPD.
– Antonia di Lorenzo ECigIntelligence staff
Photo: European Parliament