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European Commission wants to ban heated tobacco products

The European Commission said Wednesday it wants to prohibit the sale of all flavored heated tobacco products as part of its goal to cut tobacco use to 5 percent of the bloc’s population by 2040.

Sales of heated tobacco products have rocketed in Europe. From 2018 to 2020, sales of heated cigarettes soared from 924 million to 19.7 billion, a rise of more than 2,000 percent, according to a Commission report in June.

The soaring sales rates, and the fact that these products now exceed 2.5 percent of total sales of tobacco products, satisfies conditions for the EU to act.

Heated tobacco products allow people to smoke a form of cigarette at a lower temperature than normal cigarettes, lowering the level of toxins compared with burning them.

Nonetheless, they come with serious health risks associated with tobacco and nicotine use, and other chemicals, which cause cancer.

“With nine out of 10 lung cancers caused by tobacco, we want to make smoking as unattractive as possible to protect the health of our citizens and save lives,” said Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides.

As part of Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan, the EU wants to cut tobacco use to 5 percent or lower by 2040.

“Stronger actions to reduce tobacco consumption, stricter enforcement and keeping pace with new developments to address the endless flow of new products entering the market — particularly important to protect younger people — is key for this,” Kyriakides added.

It’s a trend that’s also being seen across the Atlantic. Last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned the sale of Juul flavored vapes, arguing there was too little data on the toxicity of these products, which contain nicotine.

The Council and the Parliament will debate the Commission’s proposal before it enters into force 20 days after the publication in the Official Journal. EU countries will have eight months to transpose the directive into national law, and a further three months before the provisions will apply.

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