Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) are less aware of key issues surrounding new nicotine products than in previous years and often less confident in their views, according to new research.
But the third annual survey of MEPs from Tamarind Intelligence (publisher of ECigIntelligence and TobaccoIntelligence), released today, also shows that the more these lawmakers know about e-cigarettes, nicotine pouches and heated tobacco, the more likely they are to consider the products less harmful than combustible cigarettes.
Among its key findings, the survey shows that MEPs overall rarely believe new nicotine products are as harmful as smoking. Only 19% of responses, the lowest number since the annual survey was launched in 2020, indicated this – and a majority said the products are less harmful than smoking.
However, the level of knowledge MEPs have of new nicotine products appears to strongly influence how they stand on the question of relative risk.
MEPs with no knowledge are becoming far more likely to say they don’t know the risks, while in previous years they had been quicker to adopt a position in one direction or the other. Conversely, those with knowledge are much more likely to be firm in their views that the risks are lower than for smoking.
Few MEPs consider that new nicotine products should be more restricted by law than traditional tobacco, and a majority believe online sales should be allowed for adults (with age verification). But once again, uncertainty is growing, with responses indicating that more MEPs are unsure how they should be regulated than in previous years.
Tamarind’s managing director Tim Phillips said: “These results are particularly timely given the recent launch of the European Commission’s public consultation on evaluating the legislative framework for tobacco control at the end of February 2023, and the adoption by the European Parliament of the Special Committee on Beating Cancer (BECA) recommendations over a year ago.
“As some of the questions in the Commission’s consultation are similar to the ones we asked in our MEP survey, it will be fascinating to see if MEPs’ views on the topic of new nicotine products will be in line with responses to the public consultation.”
– TobaccoIntelligence staff
Photo: European Parliament