European Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates
While the United Kingdom is an island, we do not exist in isolation and the world has an influence on who we treat nicotine and nicotine products. Pushing for common sense on the international stage is the European Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates (ETHRA) consumer group, consisting of individual champions from across the continent.
ETHRA is a very recent organisation on the political scene, set up in September 2019. Within a month it had grown to seventeen members representing vapers and users of other safer nicotine products such as snus and heated tobacco products.
This signalled a step forward in coordination and impact, prompted by the World Health Organization’s ongoing mistreatment of harm reduction products and Europe’s impending revamp of the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD).
Despite having left the European Union, British voices are still represented within ETHRA. British vapers made a huge impact on reversing the worst impacts from the last iteration of the TPD and could still help to mitigate the possible excesses of the next version.
ETHRA’s membership currently stands at 22 consumer-focussed member organisations [link], promoting “discussion and the exchange of information and potential actions to reduce exposure to tobacco-related harm. ETHRA complements existing organisations by offering European advocates a platform for exchanging information (particularly at European policy level) and for sharing experiences and local initiatives, in support of tobacco harm reduction.”
Last May, ETHRA launched a manifesto to inform its work [link]:
- Access to … tobacco harm reduction must be recognised as a human right
- Consumers … must be recognised as essential stakeholders in discussions of policy
- Regulation … must reflect the risks relative to the risks from smoking
- Regulators must recognise that having a wide choice of products and flavours is key to the success of safer nicotine products in enabling people to stop smoking
- Regulation must consider the harm to adults when considering bans intended to protect youth
- Tax policy must take into account that high taxation of safer nicotine products increases rates of smoking
Lending it even more credibility, ETHRA has partnered with a number of scientific expert advisors including Professor Frank Baeyens, Dr Jacques le Houezec, Dr Bernd Mayer, and Dr Lars Ramström.
ETHRA had achieved a number of notable successes by the end of its first year, not least being formally recognised as a stakeholder in the TPD review process, meaning it is able to offer suggestions and criticism.
It has written and continues to write to governments around the world about their treatment of harm reduction products. It has also contributed to consultation processes, delivering evidence supporting the use of electronic cigarettes.
ETHRA has become very active at spreading news of events and calls to action on its social media channels, making presentations to politicians, and attempting to impact the direction of travel for legislation.
It said: “We do not intend to relax after our successful first year, but instead to build on it.”