International Experts Call on Spain to Change its Tobacco Control Strategy

As data indicates that Spain’s traditional smoking cessation approach is failing, 170 national and international experts sent an open letter calling on local authorities to change their strategy and embrace tobacco harm reduction.

The Royal Decree 579/2017, is the legislation pertaining to the manufacture, advertising and sale of vaping products in Spain. The decree basically translates the harsh Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) into Spanish regulations, and has been effective since the 11th of June 2017.

Moreover, the Spanish Government has recently set out to put further restrictions on the sale and distribution of e-cigarettes, with the Ministry of Health saying that they aim to reformulate the local anti-smoking legislation and extend it to the use of e-cigarettes, as they cause “harmful short-term effects”. Sadly, this approach is failing, and approximately one-third of Spanish adults still smoke. 

To this effect 170 national and international experts have joined forces in signing an open letter calling for a change in strategy. Directed to the Spanish authorities, the letter calls for the inclusion of tobacco harm reduction by endorsing the use of smoke-free products such as vapes, nicotine pouches and heated tobacco products.

The UK’s example should be followed
On the other hand, a recent comprehensive review has confirmed that the UK is leading the way with regards to the smoking cessation strategy it has in place. “The most comprehensive review of vaping risks to date confirms the United Kingdom is backing the right horse when it comes to smoking cessation,” said Nancy Loucas, Executive Coordinator of CAPHRA (Coalition of Asia Pacific Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates).

Commissioned by the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities, the research was conducted at King’s College London. It found that vaping poses ‘a small fraction of the health risks of smoking’. It also concluded the use of vaping products rather than smoking leads to a ‘substantial reduction’ in exposure to toxicants that promote cancer, lung disease, and cardiovascular disease.

“The UK has adopted a progressive public health strategy, known as Tobacco Harm Reduction (THR), and it’s working. Smoking is fast becoming less popular in the UK, with vaping now responsible for tens of thousands of ex-smokers each year,” she added.While Cancer Research UK’s executive director of policy, Dr Ian Walker, believes the latest report confirms what a growing body of research has been indicating, the benefit in switching to proven safer alternatives.

“Every year smoking causes around 55,000 cancer deaths in the UK. That’s why Cancer Research UK supports balanced, evidence-based regulation on e-cigarettes from the UK government. It’s all about maximising the chances of people quitting smoking, while minimising the risk of uptake from non-smokers and young people,” said Loucas. The King’s College report, titled ‘Nicotine Vaping In England: 2022 Evidence Update’ has also gained support from the UK’s Action on Smoking and Health (ASH). The group’s chief executive Deborah Arnott, has reiterated ‘the evidence is clear that vaping poses a small fraction of the risk of smoking’.