Europe wants to cut tobacco use to less than 5 per cent of the population by 2040. Encouraging locals to stub out their Gauloises will be easier if young users never pick up the habit. A proposed ban on the sale of flavours for heated tobacco products such as British American Tobacco’s Glo is one way to start.
Like vapes and e-cigarettes, heated tobacco products are sold as a reduced-risk alternative to smoking. Unlike e-cigarettes, which heat up liquid such as glycerine in an electronic device, they heat up tobacco. Flavour options include pineapple, berry and forest fruits. If the ban is approved by the European Council and European lawmakers, countries will have less than a year to remove the products from shelves.
But more action is going to be required if Europe is serious about cutting down on tobacco use. Across 27 member states, the European Commission found that sales of HTPs rose from fewer than 1bn sticks to almost 20bn in the space of two years. Claims that they are less harmful than cigarettes lack independent research.
Worryingly, they also seem particularly popular with younger users. Research published in The Lancet last year found that those aged between 15 and 24 were more likely to use HTPs than over-55s.
While smoking has grown less popular on both sides of the Atlantic, Europe’s habit is proving harder to crack. The World Health Organization says a quarter of Europeans still smoke, compared with 16 per cent of people in the Americas. Bulgarians and Greeks light up most often, according to European Commission figures. In the US, a crackdown on flavoured e-cigarettes has extended to a complete ban on Juul, the vaping brand popular with teenagers. A similar ban may be required if Europe is going to break its nicotine addiction.
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