Saturday, 23 October 2010

Pharmaceuticals, harm reduction and competing interests

Iro Cyr of CAGE Canada has written an enlightening letter to David Staples of the Edmonton Journal, who wrote an article questioning the delay surrounding new warnings on tobacco packs.

Her letter clearly shows the confusing message put out by authorities that encourage smoking cessation, and yet ban products that customers choose as a substitute, allegedly on safety grounds. The products not covered by such bans include nicotine replacement therapy and other products of pharmaceutical companies. Those that are: e-cigarettes, snus, and other products sourced from companies other than the pharmaceuticals, including tobacco companies. Taking such substitutes off the market in favour of the pharmaceutical companies' nicotine products reduces the options available to smokers who want to stop smoking, and also increases their cost.

Iro Cyr asks why journalists criticise the lobbying activities of tobacco companies but not of pharmaceuticals, for example, who prefer that the only products available to help people stop smoking are their own. The letter is clear and challenging and the links are informative.

The European Commission is currently lobbying on exactly this area in an elegantly entitled consultation: Possible Revision of the Tobacco Products Directive 2001/37?EC, asking respondents whether EU member states should have their own policies or whether policies and bans should be comprehensively applied across Europe. Anyone concerned about the power of the EU should consider answering it, as well as those concerned about effective harm reduction or plain old choice (further details here). Other than harm reduction products (e-cigarettes and smokeless/chewing tobacco), questions cover the display of tobacco, the use of vending machines, the listing of tobacco ingredients and packaging requirements: both whether they should be regulated and if so, whether this should be done on a Europe-wide basis.

Answering this consultation will not be enough, but it will be something.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Excellent post !!
Wouldn't the U.K. love to be able to squirm their way to being able to overturn the directive that allows free trade of tobacco from one EU country to another ?