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ETHRA publishes EU Nicotine Users Survey

10 Jun 2021. European Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates (ETHRA) has published a report on its EU Nicotine Users Survey, finding that there is an “unstoppable movement towards harm reduction in Europe”.

Launched online by ETHRA in the last quarter of 2020, the questionnaire addressed consumer use of nicotine products. Topics included smoking and the desire to quit, use of safer nicotine products and barriers to switching caused by European and national regulations. Over 37,000 people, including more than 35,000 EU residents, participated in the ETHRA survey.

According to the data, more than 27,000 of the survey participants had completely quit smoking. Vapes, snus and nicotine pouches are the main harm reduction products used to quit. Amongst the respondents who had ever smoked, 83.5% of vapers, and 73.7% of snus users had successfully stopped smoking.

Over 93% of vapers and 75% of snus users cited harm reduction and improvements to health as their reasons for adopting these products. The report shows that the reduced cost compared to smoking, the availability of flavours, the availability of products and the ability to adjust vaping products are other major factors for consumers when switching to harm reduction products.

“However, smoking remains the predominant way of consuming nicotine in Europe. More than 67% of the current smokers who responded to our survey want to quit, but, as our report shows, they face barriers in their desire to be smoke-free,” ETHRA said.

According to the survey, the lack of availability of low-risk nicotine products presents a major obstacle to consumers wishing to quit smoking. The EU ban on the sale of snus (except for in Sweden), illustrates this barrier, with 31% of current smokers indicating that they would be interested in trying snus if its sale was legalised in the EU.

A quarter (24.3%) of those who smoke but who want to quit cited the high price of safer alternatives as a barrier to quitting smoking. This number rises to 44.7% in countries with a high tax on vaping products (Estonia, Finland and Portugal).

“The TPD restrictions of a maximum nicotine concentration of 20mg/ml and a maximum bottle volume of 10ml have led to a shift in consumer behaviour, where vapers have moved to using very low nicotine e-liquids. More than 30% of people who vape and smoke ('dual users') believed they could completely quit smoking if the EU nicotine limit was increased.”