A response to the SCHEER opinion on electronic cigarettes

This report from UK think tank EPICENTER looks at flawed e-cigarette regulation plans.

In September 2020, the EU’s Scientific Committee on Health, Environmental and Emerging Risks (SCHEER) published a preliminary opinion (SCHEER 2020) on electronic cigarettes which assesses the risks associated with vaping products and is designed to alert the European Commission to the “potential need for legislative amendments” to the Tobacco Products Directive. This briefing responds to the committee’s key claims and adds insights from the economics literature. The authors of the SCHEER report appear to be biased against e-cigarettes and harm reduction. The report reheats several arguments, such as the ‘gateway effect’ and the ‘renormalisation’ hypothesis, which are now a decade old and have been contradicted by real world evidence. While it downplays strong evidence showing that e-cigarettes have been a gateway from smoking for millions of people, it amplifies speculation about hypothetical risks. When the authors are unable to find adequate evidence for anti-vaping claims, they quote from organisations which share the same prejudice. Much of the evidence is treated selectively and some of the conclusions made about the strength of evidence are baffling.

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