The European Commission is “reluctant” to sit with the tobacco industry at the same table to discuss novel tobacco products such as e-cigarettes, a high-ranking EU official has said.
E-cigarettes may be less harmful, according to some reports, but they’re still “poison,” said Arūnas Vinčiūnas, head of cabinet of EU Health Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis.
The EU official was speaking at a EURACTIV event last week (30 January), where many participants called for a broader dialogue with policymakers on sensitive health topics like tobacco.
Asked why the Commission had systematically refused to meet with tobacco industry representatives during the current term, Vinčiūnas replied:
“There is reluctance and a specific attitude towards the tobacco industries,” which does not exist with other sectors.
“We are struggling to put together the two sides to discuss simple things, and people are, sometimes, very stubborn,” he added.
Less harmful, still poison
Vinčiūnas reiterated the Commission’s opposition to consider novel tobacco products and e-cigarettes as healthy.
“There are scientific reports saying that e-cigarettes are less harmful than cigarettes,” he said. “But it’s still tobacco.”
“You can drink less poison, but it is still poison in the end,” he added.
Referring to his personal experience, he said a school friend of his actually quit smoking after losing a bet with him.
“This is a simpler solution than e-cigarettes” to quit smoking, he argued.