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French Health Council on E-cig Policy

In France, the High Council on Public Health (HCSP, Le Haut consiel de la santé publique) has issued (on May 31, World No-Smoking Day) a fairly negative statement on e-cigarettes, but awaits the new directives of health director Marisol Touraine, expected on June 17.

The current document presents no surprises. Fears of gateway effect are highlighted, particularly with regard to youngsters.

On the positive side: “While this report presents a rather critical view of the e-cigarette,” notes the website Ma cigarette, “the concept of ‘risk reduction’ seems to have been introduced formally into the public discourse on the issue.” [ même si ce rapport propose une vision très critique de l'e-cigarette, le concept de réduction des risques semble avoir été intégré officiellement dans le discours politique]

It seems that the HCSP accepts the idea that e-cigs have value as a smoking-cessation tool: “for smokers wishing to quit, e-cigarette use is useful in risk reduction, for weaning oneself away.” [ pour les fumeurs ayant envie d’arrêter, la consommation d’e-cigarette est un outil de réduction des risques lorsqu’il amène au sevrage] The HCSP is willing to grant that vaping may be considered one of the viable methods of smoking cessation. ” On est ici dans une logique de réduction des risques,” declares the HCSP ['here we find ourselves within the logic of risk reduction'].

Ma cigarette notes that Marisol Touraine and the HCSP have taken a strong stance against e-cigarette advertising, arguing that it should be prohibited just as cigarette advertising is prohibited, in order to counter “re-normalization” of nicotine consumption.

The HCSP has introduced the term “vapofumeur” (vapor-smoker), according to Ma cigarette to refer to the infamous “dual user”, a figure whose positive or negative valence cannot be determined with existing literature.

The article in Ma cigarette concludes that recent scientific statements, clearly meaning the kind recently presented to the World Health Organization (WHO) by an international group of scientists, will play a major role in forthcoming pronouncements by the new leadership of the High Council. The pronouncements are expected in just 10 days, and informed judgements will “weigh in the balance” ['puissent correctement peser dans la balance'].

The forthcoming statements by the new leadership of the Haute consiel de la santé publiquewill certainly have impact on EU decisions regarding electronic cigarettes, as will the current discussion of regulation by the Food and Drug Administration in the USA. These are pivotal times for the vaping community, and it is to be hoped that regulatory outcomes will favor the ability of former smokers, vapers, and all interested parties to make their own choices.