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Harm Reduction Policies Key to Improve Europeans’ Health

Yesterday, the Platform for Better Preventive Healthcare organised a policy briefing “What are the next steps for the EU addictions policy”, hosted by Czech Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Radka Maxová (Socialists and Democrats). The briefing gathered healthcare experts and political stakeholders to discuss the Report of the Special Committee on Beating Cancer (BECA) adopted last February by the European Parliament. The discussion focused on the impact of COVID-19 on mental health and addictions management.

Recent data shows that the pandemic led to an increase in addictive behaviours related to alcohol, gambling, tobacco and digital addictions among Europeans. Deferring to the best available scientific evidence, the BECA Report acknowledged the importance of harm reduction policies like the use of harm reduction products such as e-cigarettes. The panel discussion echoed the Report’s recommendations and Prof. Viktor Mravčík, Head of Science at the Institute of Rational Addiction Policies stated that “harm reduction is not sufficiently used in tobacco control policies, and further support for it is needed in the form of adequate legislation and promotion of alternative products which are a neglected tool in tobacco cessation discussions.”

The actions proposed by MEPs in the BECA Report in relation to addiction management are crucial to ensure that future health policy is based on science and that it puts the health of European citizens first. MEP Radka Maxova highlighted that “solutions to addictions require a coherent and comprehensive approach at the EU level.”

With the upcoming revision of its tobacco legislation, the European Commission will have an opportunity to acknowledge harm reduction policies as suggested by the European Parliament. Addiction must be dealt with in a rational and scientifically robust way the panel concluded.

About the Platform for Better Preventive Healthcare

The Platform for Better Preventive Healthcare organised by the Institute for Rational Addiction Policies (IRAP) is a multi-disciplinary think-tank of independent and reputable experts. IRAP studies the question of addiction from all sides including public and individual health, legislation and other legal effects, security matters, economics, and market modelling, tax issues, effects on the state budget, education and prevention, and social, sociological, and political questions.

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