Year: 2023

Author: Antonios Nestoras, Deputy Executive Director, European Liberal Forum and Vincent Delhomme, Assistant Professor of EU Law, Leiden University

DOI: 10.53121/ELFRP4

ISSN: 2736-5816

This paper presents a compelling argument for a paradigm shift in the European Union’s approach to substance-related harm reduction, with a specific focus on tobacco and illicit drugs. Critiquing the prevailing EU policies, which are often driven by ideological considerations rather than evidence-based strategies, the paper highlights the adverse consequences of stigmatizing and criminalizing consumers.

Embracing harm reduction as a more constructive alternative, the paper advocates for prioritising the reduction of harm associated with risky behaviours over enforcing abstinence. It emphasizes the importance of differentiating between various tobacco products based on their harm profiles and proposes implementing harm reduction strategies such as targeted communication campaigns, regulated advertising practices, and differentiated taxation approaches. By adopting a harm reduction framework, the European Union can enhance public health outcomes and promote evidence-based policies.

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