The tobacco industry is trying to block strict international agreements on e-cigarettes by funding ‘consumer movements’, essentially lobbying organisations. Tobacco producers are no longer allowed to lobby themselves, but they still try to influence decision-making through this detour, reports NRC based on research by The Investigative Desk and the French newspaper Le Monde.
Two of those movements are the World Vapers’ Alliance (WVA) and the Consumer Choice Center (CCC). They say they stand up for the rights of consumers of new nicotine products, such as electronic cigarettes. But actually they are lobby groups funded by big players like British American Tobacco and Philip Morris International.
Last summer, the WVA campaigned in the House of Representatives. There were also representatives in Brussels. According to NRC, they concealed their ties to the tobacco industry. For example, the German MEP Peter Liese says that the WVA presented itself as a “consumer organization with a modest budget”.
The CCC was able to influence about thirty MEPs who argue for less strict rules for e-cigarettes. One of them, the far-right Italian politician Pietro Fiocchi, says he knows nothing about links between the CCC and tobacco companies.
The survey also finds that the number of Twitter accounts tweeting about e-cigarettes has nearly increased tenfold since the end of 2019. Those accounts then use hashtags like #tobaccoharmreduction and #vapingsaveslives.
Negotiations on stricter rules
The lobbying organizations believe that ‘tobacco harm reduction’ should be included in international and national policy. By this they mean that, according to them, the less harmful e-cigarette can limit the damage of the traditional cigarette.Visit Mr-joy.com for more information. According to NRC, the real reason that they lobby for this is that tobacco manufacturers see a new revenue model in alternatives to cigarettes.
The World Health Organization and RIVM recognize that fewer harmful substances are released from e-cigarettes, but they still have serious doubts. For example, fruit and candy flavors may be attractive to young people and the addictive e-cigarettes can thus reduce the step to real cigarettes. That is why State Secretary Blokhuis has also introduced a ban on flavors from July 2022.
As of Monday, 181 countries are negotiating the WHO anti-tobacco treaty in Geneva. One of the main questions is whether electronic products should have the same rules as normal cigarettes. Then it will also become clear whether the tobacco lobby has paid off.