Biased framing of EU-questionnaire shows hostility towards harm reduction

The European Commission is currently holding the second public consultation on the revision of the tobacco control legislation. Unfortunately, the questions and reply options are strongly biased towards prohibiting reduced-risk products.

The evaluation is part of an ongoing evaluation of the European legislative framework for tobacco control. It aims to assess the extent to which the framework has fulfilled its goals and can support a smoke-free generation by 2040, as announced in Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan (BECA).

The Commission has invited targeted stakeholders and the general public to contribute to the consultation by filling out an online questionnaire. The only problem is that the design of the questionnaire denies them an honest chance to do so.

Denies the public a fair chance to express their views

The Commission’s multiple consultation activities aim to ensure that “the policy work is carried out in an open and transparent manner”. Sadly, it is evident by how the questionnaire and the options for answers are framed that this assessment process is being undertaken in a truly biased way, with a desired result.

For various questions, the survey does not provide a possibility of expressing the apparent public health benefits of certain risk-reducing products. For example, one of the questions reads “Do you consider the sale of the following product categories should have been banned at the following locations?”. The respondent is either forced to choose one of the pre-given locations or check “Don’t know/Can’t answer”.

This indicates that the European Commission is pushing for restricting measures for reduced-risk products. The survey is designed to undermine the public health effects of less harmful alternatives, delivering a blow to hopes that such products could help Europe reach its ambitious smoke-free goal.

“It is disheartening that the Commission seems hell-bent on restraining consumers access to reduced-risk products. If it succeeds in doing so, it will have severe consequences for European public health.”, says Markus Lindblad, Head of Communications at Haypp Group; initiator of Pouch Patrol and the world’s largest e-retailer of nicotine pouches.

Report the questionnaire!

Pouch Patrol believes that it is essential that consumers engage and make it clear to the Commission that restricting smokers less harmful alternatives would be fatal.

The Commission has invited the public to submit comments until the 16th of May 2023. We encourage all readers to report the consultation based on political propaganda.

  1. Go to: ‘Evaluation of the legislative framework for tobacco control’
  2. Scroll down the page until you come to the questionnaire section and click on ‘Respond to the questionnaire.’
  3. After clicking ‘Respond to the questionnaire’ you must either sign in or create an account.
  4. Once signed in you will be able to report the questionnaire by clicking “report abuse”.
  5. You are now given the option to choose the alternative “It contains political propaganda” as an answer to why you wish to report the questionnaire.
  6. After filling in why you want to report the survey, you will have “Specify the issue”. It could be worth considering something along the following reasoning: The questionnaire and options for answers are designed in a biased way, denying respondents the opportunity to express their views as they wish. The survey is prejudiced as it implies that all tobacco- and nicotine products are equally harmful, threatening the continuation of policy. Moreover, the language of the survey is misleading as it could be interpreted in multiple ways.
  7. Finally, click “Report”, and your report will be submitted.

Thank you for reporting the public consultation! Let’s do all we can to keep safer alternatives to smoking available.