NEWS AKTUELL // Expert for addiction studies, Prof. Dr. Heino Stöver, criticizes the new EU Beating Cancer Plan: "Target of less than 5 percent of smokers in the EU not achievable without harm reduction approach".
Prof. Dr. Heino Stöver has sharply criticized the EU Commission's "Beating Cancer Plan" presented today: "For years, the always same methods have been used trying to attain the ambitious goals of an almost tobacco-free continent. Tax increases, advertising bans and no-smoking zones are too biased as measures are still not successful in stopping addicts from smoking. Once again, the EU Commission is focusing on the obsolete “quit or die" approach when it comes to tobacco cessation, instead of designing a reality-based addiction policy."
Stöver also regrets that the EU Commission ignores the scientifically proven benefits of e-cigarettes in smoking cessation and even goes so far as to portray them as part of the problem: "The UK, New Zealand and Canada are using e-cigarettes as a key tool in the fight against tobacco use and are more successful than the EU with its outdated approach."
E-cigarettes are about twice as successful as other nicotine replacement products in helping people quit smoking, he said. "In addiction research, it has long been known that people more likely succeed in overcoming their addiction when they take many small steps instead of one big step" said the addiction expert. It is therefore not surprising that surveys in Great Britain show, that more than one million ex-smokers who used e-cigarettes during the interim phase are now completely abstinent.
Nevertheless, in the recently published Beating Cancer Plan, the EU Commission sees no reason to accept e-cigarettes, tobacco heating products or nicotine pouches as effective smoking cessation tools: "The EU Commission ignores scientific evidence and puts e-cigarettes on a level with tobacco products. I absolutely do not understand why such an effective instrument is being massively contested", explains Prof. Stöver.
"The higher the targets we set ourselves as a society, the more convincing the ways must be to achieve them. We cannot determine overambitious target values without offering people a convincing path to defeat their addiction", he points out.
The model for such a path could be the tobacco control strategies from the United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand. For years, they have aimed to create awareness for the positive effects of switching from traditional cigarettes to e-cigarettes. "I believe that for ethical as well as practical reasons, it would have been an absolute necessity to include e-cigarettes as a central component in tobacco cessation in the new Beating Cancer Plan. It should have been clearly stated that e-cigarettes and tobacco heating products are not harmless, but they are a significantly less harmful alternatives to continued smoking. This would be especially important for smokers who fail to quit the far more dangerous tobacco cigarette. After all, this remains the most harmful form of nicotine use."
About Heino Stöver
Heino Stöver is a professor at Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences and executive director of the Institute for Addiction Research at Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences (ISFF). He is active as a consultant to WHO, UNODC, the European Commission, the International Red Cross, the Society for International Cooperation, the Open Society Institute, and ministries of health/social affairs (in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia). He is co-founder of the international peer-reviewed International Journal of Prisoner Health and co-editor of the publication series Health Promotion in Prisons. Since 2008, he has been chairman of akzept e.V. (Federal Association for Accepting Drug Work and Humane Drug Policy). He is also a member of the advisory working group "Men's Health" of the Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA) in Germany.
Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences
Fachbereich 4: Soziale Arbeit und Gesundheit
Prof. Dr. Heino Stöver
Phone: +49 69 1533-2823 und mobile: +49 162 133 45 33