Anti-Smoking Efforts Expected To Lead To Increase In Vaping
Menthol cigarettes have long been charged with targeting minors, women, and minorities with its minty flavor creating perceptions of reduced harm. As a result, officials around the world have been outlawing the tobacco staple in an attempt to lower smoking rates and improve public health.
New anti-smoking laws went into effect throughout European Union member states and territories on May 20th. The laws are a part of EU Tobacco Product Directive laws, which were initially introduced back in 2014, but delayed by an extension before being placed into a 4-year market transition period in 2016.
The ban explicitly bans the sale and production of menthol cigarettes and cigarettes with characterizing flavors. The ban also addresses alternative menthol cigarettes such as those that use crushable capsules in the filter, and slim cigarettes as well.
The flavor ban notably does not apply to vapor products despite the often sustained push by lawmakers to target vaping. As a result, vape sales are expected to spike throughout the Union as menthol smokers look for alternatives and to quit.
Notably, despite their infamous “Brexit” from the European Union, the law has still been implemented in the UK. European Union laws are still applicable to the United Kingdom during the transition process, which is still ongoing.
No More Menthol
The European Union Revised Tobacco Products Directive is an anti-smoking public health measure that was first introduced in 2014, followed by a four-year market transition that began in May 2016. The directive explicitly prohibits the production and sale of menthol cigarettes and those with any characterizing flavor. While the flavor ban does not extend to vapor products, the new regulations do contain a provision prohibiting promoting them.
As a result, vape sales are expected to see a notable increase throughout member states, and particularly the UK, where public health officials have embraced vaping as a proven form of smoking cessation. The surge in sales is welcomed by the industry, which has faced a number of challenges created by the coronavirus crisis.
Smokers’ Rights groups have spoken out against the ban, stating the ban is a restriction of their freedoms and autonomy as adults capable of making their own decisions. They point to Canada’s menthol ban, noting the ban did not lead to reduced teenage smoking rates but did reduce freedom of choice and access for adults.
“Research shows that menthol in cigarettes makes it easier for children to try smoking and to go on to become addicted smokers,” said Deborah Arnott of Action on Smoking and Health. “Getting rid of menthol cigarettes will reduce the likelihood of young people taking up smoking and make it easier for smokers to quit,” she added. Action on Smoking and Health and other anti-smoking groups note that menthol cigarettes create a perception of reduced harm among younger smokers due to its minty flavor, leading to increased instances of habitual smoking and nicotine dependence.
Facts About Vaping
Every year, the global smoking epidemic is responsible for millions of complications, diseases, and deaths across the planet. According to data from the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, there are currently an estimated 38 million smokers in the United States alone, of which 16 million suffer from some form of smoking-related illness.
A series of studies have demonstrated the efficacy of vaping as a smoking cessation aid, offering the greatest promise and potential in combating this deadly epidemic. According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that vaping was more effective than traditional nicotine-replacement therapies in helping people both quit smoking and remain tobacco-free.
The United Kingdom has long embraced vaping as an effective form of smoking cessation, noting the value that it has on public health as a whole. Landmark research conducted by the UK Royal College of Physicians found vaping to be 95% safer than smoking, a figure Public Health England routinely stands behind. Additionally, according to research published in the journal Addiction, vaping helped up to 70,000 British smokers quit in a single year alone.
Alongside the aforementioned public health benefits, there is currently no evidence of long-term risk to users of vapor products. According to research published by the National Academy of Sciences, not only has vaping been demonstrated to be less harmful than smoking, but there are no known long-term health effects associated with prolonged use as well.
The European Union menthol ban is expected to be a welcome boon to the region’s vaping industry, which has been hit particularly hard following lockdowns caused by the pandemic. While some member states, such as Italy, have recognized the value of vaping and allow vape shops to continue operating as essential services, others have left them shuttered in the wake of the resulting crisis.
Given the risk of increased complications and worsened outcomes for smokers who contract the coronavirus, there may not have been a better time for the public health measure to take effect. While concerns over freedom of choice and access are valid, EU smokers’ rights groups had nearly a decade of time to organize an effective call to action and lobbying effort and failed to do so.
What are your thoughts about the EU Tobacco Products Directive finally going into effect? Do you think this will have a positive effect on the European vaping industry? We would love to know what you think in the comments below. Don’t forget to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to receive all the latest vaping news!
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