19.7 percent of the EU population are daily smokers. [1] 700,000 people in the EU die each year as a result of smoking and every second smoker dies on average 14 years prematurely. [2] 

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable cancer, with 27 percent of all cancers attributed to tobacco. [3]  The examples of Great Britain (smoking rate: 13.8 percent) and New Zealand (10.9 percent) show necessary measures that could serve as a template for European health policy. To educate smokers, the British and the New Zealand governments are increasingly using harm-reducing alternatives such as vaping. 

The UK government has put the harm potential of vaping at least 95 percent less than smoking. The risk of developing cancer is considered to be 99.5 percent lower for vapers than for smokers. These findings have been substantiated in multiple publications over recent years. [4] 

In the UK and New Zealand, smokers are strongly encouraged to switch to vaping [5] and healthcare professionals are encouraged to suggest e-cigarettes as an alternative when counseling smokers.

The results of this strategy: Great Britain has reduced smoking rates from 20.2 to 13.8 percent within nine years (2011-2020) through a constructive harm reduction policy. [6] The New Zealand government launched an e-cigarette awareness campaign in 2020. This has helped reduce the smoking rate from 13.7 to 10.9 percent within one year (2020-2021). [7]

The science confirms that e-cigarettes are a very good way to quit smoking. The Cochrane organization – considered the world leader in scientific literature review – recently concluded that e-cigarettes are highly effective in smoking cessation. [8]

But the sad truth is that a large number of smokers misjudge the harm potential of e-cigarettes. Only 28 percent of smokers in Europe know that vaping is less harmful than smoking. 70 percent of those who have little or no experience with vaping think that they do not help tobacco smokers to quit. [9] [10]

IEVA president Dustin Dahlmann: “World Cancer Day is a great opportunity to underline the importance of Tobacco Harm Reduction. Many smokers are unaware of the benefits that switching to vaping can bring to them. Educating smokers about the advantages of e-cigarettes is an urgent task for EU health policy. Then the number of smoking-related illnesses and deaths in the EU can be significantly reduced.” 


[1] Smoking of tobacco products by sex, age and country of citizenship, Eurostat 2022. Link

[2] Public Health overview, European Commission. Link

[3] Statement by Health and Food Safety Commissioner Stella Kyriakides, 31.05.2021. Link

[4] Evidence review of e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products 2018, Public Health England. Link

[5] „Guidance Smoking and tobacco: applying All Our Health“ Office for Health Improvement and Disparities 2022. Link

[6] Office for National Statistics UK. Link 1, Link 2 

[7] New Zealand Health Survey 2021/22. Link

[8] Electronic cigarettes for smoking cessation, Cochrane 2022. Link

[9] European adult smokers’ perceptions of the harmfulness of e-cigarettes relative to combustible cigarettes, European Journal of Public Health 2020. Link

[10] Attitudes of Europeans towards tobacco and electronic cigarettes, Eurobarometer 2021. Link

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