The European Commission is reluctant to sit with the tobacco industry to discuss ‘novel tobacco products such as electronic cigarettes’, according to a story by Gerardo Fortuna and Sarantis Michalopoulos for EurActiv, quoting a high-ranking EU official.

The use of e-cigarettes might be less harmful than smoking traditional cigarettes, according to some reports, but e-cigarettes are still “poison,” Arūnas Vinčiūnas, head of cabinet of EU Health Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis, was quoted as saying.

The EU official was speaking at a EURACTIV event where many participants called for a broader dialogue with policymakers on sensitive health topics such as tobacco consumption.

Asked why the Commission had systematically refused to meet with tobacco industry representatives during the current term, Vinčiūnas replied: “There is reluctance and a specific attitude towards the tobacco industries,” which does not exist with other sectors.

“We are struggling to put together the two sides to discuss simple things, and people are, sometimes, very stubborn,” he added.

Vinčiūnas reiterated the Commission’s opposition to consider novel tobacco products and e-cigarettes as healthy.

“There are scientific reports saying that e-cigarettes are less harmful than cigarettes,” he said. “But it’s still tobacco.”

“You can drink less poison, but it is still poison in the end,” he added.

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