The WHO’s “prohibitionist” anti-vaping coverage will lead to “more death and suffering from smoking”, in accordance to greater than 100 global experts.
More than 100 global experts have slammed the World Health Organisation for a cussed anti-vaping stance that’s contributing to “millions” of avoidable smoking-related deaths.
In an open letter forward of a global tobacco management assembly subsequent month, the group of unbiased experts in nicotine science and coverage have blasted the WHO for being “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,” they write.
The letter is addressed to the Parties to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) – a 2004 treaty negotiated underneath the auspices of the WHO with 168 signatories – forward of the ninth Conference of Parties beginning on November 8.
“WHO has been running a prohibitionist campaign against tobacco harm reduction, even though tobacco harm reduction is part of its official policy … in the FCTC,” mentioned Dr (*100*) Mendelsohn, founding chair of the Australian Tobacco Harm Reduction Association and one of many three Australian signatories to the letter.
Emeritus Professor Wayne Hall from the National Centre for Youth Substance Use Research on the University of Queensland, and Dr Alex Wodak, emeritus guide at St Vincent’s Hospital and chair of the Australia21 assume tank, are additionally signatories.
Dr Mendelsohn mentioned the WHO “remains grossly and persistently misinformed about tobacco harm reduction and does not understand that it is displacing smoking”, however that its strategy was “influential”, significantly in low- and middle-income international locations (LMICs).
“This will lead to more death and suffering from smoking, especially in LMICs where most smoking deaths already occur,” Dr Mendelsohn mentioned.
WHO says youngsters focused
There are presently an estimated one billion people who smoke globally, round 80 per cent of whom reside in LMICs.
Tobacco is chargeable for round eight million deaths per yr.
In its 2021 tobacco report launched in July, the WHO reiterated its opposition to e-cigarettes, citing the chance that kids who use the products are up to 3 times extra doubtless to use tobacco products sooner or later.
“Nicotine is highly addictive. Electronic nicotine delivery systems are harmful, and must be better regulated,” WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus mentioned on the time.
“Where they are not banned, governments should adopt appropriate policies to protect their populations from the harms of electronic nicotine delivery systems, and to prevent their uptake by children, adolescents and other vulnerable groups.”
As of the beginning of this month, Australia has banned the importation of nicotine e-cigarettes after a “significant increase” of their use by younger folks. People can nonetheless purchase the products if they’ve a prescription from their GP.
According to the WHO’s report, 32 international locations have banned the sale of e-cigarettes and an extra 79 have adopted not less than one measure to clamp down on their sale, use or promotion.
That nonetheless leaves 84 international locations the place they haven’t been regulated or restricted in any approach.
Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the WHO’s Global Ambassador for Noncommunicable Diseases and Injuries, has campaigned in opposition to vaping.
“More than one billion people around the world still smoke,” Mr Bloomberg mentioned in July.
“And as cigarette sales have fallen, tobacco companies have been aggressively marketing new products – like e-cigarettes and heated-tobacco products – and lobbied governments to limit their regulation. Their goal is simple – to hook another generation on nicotine. We can’t let that happen.”
‘Vaping much less harmful’
In the letter to the WHO, which raises seven key factors and makes six suggestions, the experts known as on the physique to “modernise” its strategy to tobacco coverage.
“Over the last decade, innovation in the tobacco and nicotine marketplace has meant there are now many nicotine products available that do not involve combustion of tobacco leaf and inhalation of smoke,” they write.
“These smoke-free products include vaping products, novel oral nicotine pouches, heated tobacco products, and low-nitrosamine smokeless tobacco, such as snus.”
They notice that cigarettes and different smoked tobacco products are chargeable for the “vast majority” of deaths brought on by tobacco use globally, and that smoke-free nicotine products “offer a promising route to reducing the harms arising from smoking”.
“There is compelling evidence that smoke-free products are much less harmful than cigarettes and that they can displace smoking for individuals and at the population level,” they write.
They acknowledged that there was “uncertainty as to the benefits and risks” related to the products and famous the involvement of the tobacco business.
“However, 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,” they mentioned.
Q&A filled with ‘misinformation’
Last yr, the WHO was accused of operating a “misleading” Q&A filled with “blatant misinformation” about digital nicotine supply methods (ENDS), extra generally referred to as e-cigarettes.
In the Q&A, the WHO warned that “both tobacco products and ENDS pose risks to health” and that “the safest approach is not to use either”.
“The WHO has a history of anti-vaping activism that is damaging their reputation. This document is particularly malign,” Professor Peter Hajek, director of the Tobacco Dependence Research Unit at Queen Mary University of London, mentioned in a press release on the time.
“Practically all the factual statements in it are wrong. There is no evidence that vaping is ‘highly addictive’ – less than 1 per cent of non-smokers become regular vapers. Vaping does not lead young people to smoking – smoking among young people is at [an] all time low.
“There is no evidence that vaping increases risk of heart disease or that could have any effect at all on bystanders’ health. The US outbreak of lung injuries is due to contaminants in illegal marijuana cartridges and has nothing to do with nicotine vaping. There is clear evidence that e-cigarettes help smokers quit.
“The authors of this document should take responsibility for using blatant misinformation that is likely to to prevent smokers from switching to a much less risky alternative.”
Professor John Britton, director of the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies and Consultant in Respiratory Medicine on the University of Nottingham, mentioned the WHO doc was “misleading on several counts”.
“It implies that vaping nicotine is the cause of the 2019 US outbreak of severe lung disease, when it was in fact vaping cannabis products,” he mentioned.
“It says that there is no strong evidence that vaping is an effective means of quitting smoking, when in fact there is clinical trial evidence of the highest standard demonstrating that vaping is more effective than the nicotine replacement therapies that the WHO endorse.
“It responds to the question of whether e-cigarettes are more dangerous than tobacco cigarettes by suggesting that we don’t know, when in fact they are clearly less harmful. In these ways alone, the WHO misrepresents the available scientific evidence.”