BEAMSVILLE, Ontario, Oct. 21, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- With vaping slated for discussion at the upcoming Conference of the Parties (COP9) to the WHO FCTC and of the Meeting of the Parties (MOP2), 100 experts in nicotine science and policy have penned a letter to the Heads of Delegation calling on the WHO to modernise its approach to tobacco policy.
In recent years the WHO has doubled down on its regressive positions on vaping and tobacco harm reduction, going so far as to award India’s Health and Family Wellness Minister, Dr. Harsh Vardan, for introducing legislation to ban e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products. Given India has the second highest smoking rates globally, behind China, it is alarming the WHO would award restricting access to an effective harm reduction product.
Often restrictions to vape products are justified as cautious policy, with health agencies citing uncertainty in vaping’s long term health consequences. However, in regard to unknown health outcomes, the letter’s authors state, “…we must also consider the substantial body of evidence we do have and not allow excessive caution or residual uncertainties to deny smokers promising options to switch away from the combustible products that we know with certainty are lethal.”
Additionally, the authors cite the powerful essay written by the 15 past presidents of the leading academic society, the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco (SRNT). The authors of the essay, are some of the most credible tobacco control experts globally and use the essay address many misperceptions including relative risks, youth use and the gateway effect.
“While evidence suggests that vaping is currently increasing smoking cessation, the impact could be much larger if the public health community paid serious attention to vaping’s potential to help adult smokers, smokers received accurate information about the relative risks of vaping and smoking, and policies were designed with the potential effects on smokers in mind. That is not happening,” said the authors of Balancing Consideration of the Risks and Benefits of E-Cigarettes.
“It is not happening in WHO. That must change, if necessary, through the leadership of the Parties if WHO remains unwilling or unable to perform this role… Regrettably, WHO has been dismissive of the potential to transform the tobacco market from high-risk to low-risk products. WHO is rejecting a public health strategy that could avoid millions of smoking-related deaths,” the authors stated in response to the excerpt from the past president’s essay.
“We believe that it is time for global tobacco policy to draw on the full potential of tobacco harm reduction. We hope the public health science, policy, and practitioner communities will converge on a common purpose to meet the SDGs and to reduce the global burden of tobacco-related disease and premature mortality as quickly and deeply as possible,” concluded the authors.
“Many of the world’s most credible experts are speaking out at the highest levels to advocate that vaping remains accessible to adult smokers. The experts and the science have been clear that if properly supported vaping could prevent the premature death of millions of people globally,” said Darryl Tempest, Executive Director of the CVA.