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The UK Should Take Advantage of Brexit to Create Smoke-Free Society

In a CAPX article, Cullip writes that by opting out of the EU's tobacco control strategy, Sweden has succeeded in achieving its goal of being smoke-free. He adds that the U.K. should use any freedom the U.K.'s exit from the EU brings to follow suit.

The UK has been a leader in supporting the use of safer alternatives to reduce tobacco harm, and local smoking rates are reflecting this. Earlier this year, e-cigarettes were officially recognised as a smoking cessation tool by the UK's National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and included in its newly released tobacco guidelines. Meanwhile, Public Health England (PHE), an agency of the U.K. Department of Health, is known for consistently recommending a switch from smoking to e-cigarettes to reduce harm.

Certainly, the UK's exit from the EU provides the country with the opportunity to reshape its tobacco harm reduction policies to be more comprehensive, aggressive and progressive. Since leaving the Common Market, the UK has been reviewing its Tobacco and Related Products Regulations. This review is required after five years of implementation, coinciding with the required four-year interval for reviewing TCP, and a new version is scheduled to be introduced by the end of this year.

Earlier this year, the New Nicotine Alliance (NNA) explained that it was proposing a coherent risk-based framework for all safer nicotine products on behalf of consumers of smoking and other low-risk nicotine products in the UK to promote progress in public health, personal and economic well-being across the country.

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NNA emphasizes that the proposed recommendations would not only achieve the government's goal of increasing the leveling agenda, but would also involve no additional public spending. In addition, referring to the infamous EU TPD and its counterproductive effect on reducing smoking rates, NNA said its proposals offer an opportunity to "'take back control' from the EU's regulatory mistakes in this policy area."

TPD hampers UK growth
Similarly, Cullip stressed that the TPD has been holding back the UK." The EU Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) has been holding the UK back for too long - banning safer alternatives to smoking, such as chewing tobacco snus. Sweden negotiated an opt-out from the EU-wide ban on snus sales when it joined the bloc in 1995. The result was dramatic, with the product directly contributing to Sweden having the lowest smoking rate in Europe at 6% (and falling) and the lowest rate of smoking-related illness.

Sadly, he added, the EU appears ready to take its already restrictive strategy one step further." But the latest signs of the EU's determination to take an anti-scientific approach to safer nicotine use go even further. One unrealistic idea recently floated by the European Commission was to ban many flavors of e-cigarettes - the safer alternatives to cigarettes that many smokers rely on to help them quit. Sadly, the Commission has once again invoked the sneaky anti-smoking pseudoscience often peddled by the World Health Organization (WHO), ignoring clear evidence of the significant benefits e-cigarettes can provide."