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66% of smokers in EU believe smoke-free alternatives taxes should be lower - Povaddo

66% of smokers in EU believe smoke-free alternatives taxes should be lower - Povaddo 66% of smokers in EU believe that taxes on smoke-free alternatives should be lower than on cigarettes (photo: Povaddo)
Author: RBC Ukraine

65% of smokers in the European Union, believe that authorities do not consider the impact on smokers when adopting regulatory acts regarding tobacco and nicotine-containing products, according to a study by the Povaddo company, presented on Monday, April 15th, in Paris.

Also, 66% of adult respondents in Europe agree that organizations such as the EU and WHO should pay more attention to harm reduction, encouraging smokers to use less harmful products rather than trying to completely abstain from tobacco use.

The survey results, which for the first time include data from Ukraine, also indicate that smokers are aware that smoke-free alternatives, such as electronic cigarettes and heated tobacco products, are a sensible alternative to cigarettes, and the EU should carefully consider the consequences of any tax policies applied to these alternatives.

Two-thirds (66%) of adults surveyed in Europe believe smokers can be encouraged to switch to scientifically substantiated alternatives by taxing these products lower than cigarettes, but still high enough to discourage use by youth or non-smokers.

In addition, the survey showed that Europeans have a clear position on how governments at both the national and EU levels should approach these products:

  • Adult smokers should be given accurate, scientifically substantiated information that smoke-free alternatives to cigarettes are less risky than continued smoking, even if these alternatives are not risk-free (69%).
  • Governments can help improve public health by endorsing policies that encourage adult smokers who don’t quit altogether to switch to innovative smoke-free alternatives that have the potential to be less harmful than continued smoking (67%).
  • The EU should dedicate time and resources to eradicating smoking by encouraging all smokers to either quit completely or switch to a scientifically substantiated less risky alternative (67%).

"These survey results suggest there is a disconnect between policymakers and the citizens they govern and represent when it comes to tobacco policy. The EU policy approach seems more focused on an unrealistic objective, the complete eradication of nicotine use, while the majority of the public is receptive to the pragmatic concept of tobacco harm reduction and encouraging smokers to use less harmful nicotine-containing products", said Povaddo’s president, William Stewart

Additionally, the survey shows that six-in-ten (60%) believe their country has a “problem” with illicit tobacco and nicotine-containing products, although only 6% of respondents across the 13 Member States correctly identified that in 2022 between EUR 10bio and 15bio tax revenue was lost because of illicit trade.

There is a high acknowledgment and comprehension of the impacts of illicit tobacco and nicotine-containing products, even if the size of the issue is underestimated:

  • 74% agree that banning certain tobacco and nicotine-containing products will not actually lead to a reduction in consumption. Instead, consumers will just seek out these products on the black market.
  • 65% agree that Illicit trade in tobacco and nicotine-containing products undermines efforts to reduce smoking rates.
  • 73% agree that Illicit trade in tobacco and nicotine-containing products can have serious negative consequences on security, safety, and public health in their respective countries.

"The bottom line is the illicit trade of tobacco and nicotine-products is viewed as a problem across Europe, and people are attuned to the negative consequences that stem from this problem. There’s a pretty clear mandate from the public that governments must take illicit trade into account when deciding how to regulate and tax these products, and there are a lot of people who do not feel that is happening", according to Stewart.

Povaddo to field the survey for PMI commissioned in the following countries: Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, France, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, and Ukraine.

A total of 14,119 interviews were conducted among legal age, general population adults (approximately 1,000 per country) from 29 December 2023 – 31 January 2024. The data has been weighted at a country level by age, gender, and tobacco/nicotine product consumption to reflect national population statistics.

The survey carries an overall margin of error of +/- 1% at the 95% confidence interval. Results are available both at an overall level (14 countries) and at an individual country level. Country-level results carry a margin of error of +/- 3% at the 95% confidence interval.

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