Sunday, June 20, 2021
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HomeWorldWHO’s Latest Tobacco Report - An ‘epic Fail’ For Public Health

WHO’s Latest Tobacco Report – An ‘epic Fail’ For Public Health


Asia Pacific’s leading tobacco harm reduction advocacy
group, CAPHRA, is deeply disturbed by the World Health
Organisation’s recently released ‘Tobacco Product
Regulation Report’. It says WHO’s negative and
obstructive approach towards safer nicotine vaping products
continues to impact smoking cessation rates, costing lives
globally.

“Good public health policy reduces the
threats and harms to the public. It does not create them, or
introduce confusion, yet that’s exactly what WHO seems
determined to do,” says Nancy Loucas, Executive
Coordinator of the Coalition of Asia Pacific Tobacco Harm
Reduction Advocates (CAPHRA).

“Once again WHO is
pushing for smoking and nicotine vaping to be regulated as
one, when the two couldn’t be further apart. One has an up
to 50% chance of killing its users while the other has a
less than a 10% chance of causing any harm,” says Ms
Loucas.

WHO’s report recommends taking ‘a
panoramic view of all nicotine and tobacco product use’.
It argues for global consistency when it comes to the likes
of flavour availability saying regulation should be the same
across all nicotine and tobacco products, rather than
applied individually. The report also promotes achieving
‘the ultimate objective of nicotine and tobacco-free
future generations.’

“Nicotine is not a problem or
a killer but ridding us of it remains a WHO priority. What
about squarely focusing on combustible tobacco instead?
Afterall, it’s the inhalation of toxic smoke that kills
eight million people every year. That’s the real enemy,
yet WHO takes aim at the world’s most effective smoking
cessation tool – vaping!”

WHO acknowledges ‘ENDs
(electronic nicotine delivery systems) that deliver nicotine
effectively might help some smokers to quit combustible
smoking, with positive public health effects.’ However,
CAPHRA is frustrated with its following claim that ‘most
of these individuals, however, continue to use ENDS, with
uncertain individual health consequences and thus an
uncertain public health impact.’

“WHO continues to
ignore numerous independent and peer-reviewed scientific
studies supporting vaping as a much safer alternative to
deadly cigarettes. Public Health England, for example,
stands firmly behind its 2018 review, which concluded that
‘e-cigarettes are around 95% safer than combustible
cigarettes,’” says Ms Loucas.

She says the study
group in WHO’s report recommends bans on all aspects of
vaping that are the cornerstone of its effectiveness –
recommendations not based on scientific evidence but on
theories – some of which have already been clearly
disproven.

“These latest WHO policy recommendations
do nothing to enable elected representatives, or the general
public, to make informed decisions. This is a public health
fail of epic proportions, particularly when we know many
smokers have opted not to switch to a safer alternative
while some vapers have returned to smoking because of the
ongoing confusion WHO stirs up,” she says.

Ms Loucas
says several esteemed public health experts are also
concerned with WHO’s approach, including former director
of the American Cancer Society, Cliff Douglas, and former
head of ASH UK, Clive Bates. They say WHO, and those public
health experts and policymakers who follow their advice,
have moved away from evidence-based guidance and policy when
it comes to tobacco harm reduction.

“CAPHRA is keen
to reinforce that guidance in this latest report is sadly
not given in the best interests of public health. To make
the best decisions around tobacco harm reduction and safer
nicotine products, we strongly urge elected representatives
and health officials to demand objective and current
scientific evidence,” says Nancy Loucas.

Consumer
groups in the Asia-Pacific region have launched a petition
that urges the World Health Organisation (WHO) to respect
consumer rights ahead of the next biennial meeting of the
WHO Framework Convention of Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) in
November. Please sign and share the petition at change.org/v4v-petition

For
a free digital media repository on tobacco harm reduction in
Asia Pacific – including media releases, images and graphics
– please visit https://apthrmedia.org

About
CAPHRA

The Coalition of Asia Pacific Tobacco Harm
Advocates (CAPHRA) is a regional alliance of consumer
tobacco harm reduction advocacy organizations. Its mission
is to educate, advocate and represent the right of adult
alternative nicotine consumers to access and use of products
that reduce harm from tobacco use.

https://caphraorg.net/

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