The hostility, intransigence, and prodigious mediocrity of Spanish tobacco control make dialogue impossible to favor harm reduction and tobacco cessation.
With mortality higher than COVID-19, every hour about six people die from the consequences of smoking in Spain. The Iberian country, which among adults maintains a prevalence of smoking around 27.9%, has more than half a million ex-smokers who have given up cigarettes thanks to vaping.
In addition, it has a very important and strong business network related to vaping and, according to a study by Consumers Choice Center, the potential lives that could be saved by promoting the change from traditional cigarettes to safer devices for nicotine consumption is more than 2,5 million, from current persons who smoke.
But to become a reality, this scenario requires balanced, skillful, and intelligent public policies, in addition to the consensus that, despite not being innocuous, electronic cigarettes are much safer than smoking. However, the social environment that seems to indicate significant health and economic opportunity for the country clashes scandalously with the intransigent and inflexible stance of major health entities. They are categorically against this possibility and the perspective of harm reduction as public policy.
A new boycott
Rather than dialogue and advancement, some key public institutions on the issue promote boycotts and hostility towards those who advocate for harm reduction and defend the most successful alternatives to smoking in the country.
The case of the congress “Smoking: Perspectives and New Advancements”, organized by Plataforma por la Reducción de Daños por Tabaquismo (Platform for Tobacco Harm Reduction), a platform made up of a group of Spanish doctors, scientists, and health workers, and which supposed to have the collaboration of up to five Medical Societies of national prestige, is one more example.
The Spanish Society of Directors of Primary Care, the Spanish Association of Surgeons, and the Spanish Society of Thoracic Surgery were intimidated by the Ministry of Health not to participate in the event. The Spanish Society of Internal Medicine and the Spanish Society of Oral Surgery, members of the National Committee for the Prevention of Smoking (CNPT), were authoritatively and explicitly threatened by email and phone calls not to participate in the congress.
“Throughout the weekend prior to the congress, we have been informed that both the National Committee for the Prevention of Smoking and the Ministry of Health, in letters signed by Andrés Zamorano [President of the CNPT] and Pilar Campos [Deputy Director-General of Health], have urged these Societies to leave the congress, arguing that the Platform makes an apology for Heated Tobacco (which is scientifically endorsed by both the FDA and by different reports from the UK Ministry of Health, for example), under an assumption, and absolutely false sponsorship of Phillip Morris, as well as the strict opposition of the CNPT and the Ministry against electronic cigarettes, heated tobacco and tobacco, is made clear“, Dr. Carmen Escrig, Ph.D. in Cell Biology and Genetics from the Autonomous University of Madrid and founder of the Platform told to The Vaping Today.