The W.H.O. are apparently preparing for the anti-smoking COP-9 conference this year in 2021 having postponed to do so from 2020 because of the pandemic by scrutinising calls for measures to be taken by governments like the U.K.’s to prevent the non-smoking public from taking up vaping instead of smoking and initiating youth to either of the two having vaping alternatives as a medium of introduction to smoking. The W.H.O. is also emphasising that independent research will determine the types of hazards directed at users’ health presented by electronic smoking alternatives and calls them significantly detrimental and harmful.
Dr Adriana Blanco Marquizo, head of secretariat of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) said that more research is needed on any possible effects of e-cigarettes; she said that “until independent research shows the real risk profile of these products, governments should be cautious. Science-based evidence, not marketing, should guide their actions.”.
“Tobacco is responsible for the death of eight million people a year, including one million from second-hand smoke,” the W.H.O. has stressed. The WHO had assessed that governments do whatever they can to prevent non-smokers from taking up e-cigarettes for fear of “re-normalising smoking in society” while pressurising for measures to include more regulation after releasing its 2021 Report on the Tobacco Epidemic.
The report found that 32 countries have banned the sale of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems while 79 have adopted at least one partial measure to either prohibit the use of such products in public places, prohibit their advertising, promotion and sponsorship or require the display of health warnings on packaging but that “this still leaves 84 countries where they are not regulated or restricted in any way,”, the WHO said. The Geneva-based organisation stressed that efforts to regulate e-cigarettes should not distract from the fight against smoking by failing to witness the binding relation.
Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and U.N. Ambassador for Non-Communicable Disease declared that “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”, while demonstrating an opposition to their own choices since taking up vaping would be better than taking up smoking for the health.
But critics have emerged delineating the difference in between the two:
Emeritus Professor John Britton of Epidemiology at the University of Nottingham said that “this report demonstrates that, sadly, the WHO still doesn’t understand the fundamental difference between addiction to tobacco smoking, which kills millions of people every year, and addiction to nicotine, which doesn’t. The WHO is also evidently still content with the hypocrisy of adopting a position which recommends the use of medicinal nicotine products to treat addiction to smoking, but advocates prohibition of consumer nicotine products which do the same thing, but better. The WHO is right that non-smokers, especially children, should be discouraged from using any nicotine product. But for the more than one billion tobacco smokers in the world, electronic nicotine delivery systems are part of the solution, not the problem”.
The president of the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World, Dr Derek Yach, said “the exceptional growth of next generation devices offers the WHO a real opportunity to tackle combustible consumption once and for all. Over 100 million ex-smokers use reduced-risk products, and the WHO should be taking advantage of massive investment in the sector by encouraging governments to provide an incentivised regulatory framework to enable greater expansion.”.
No wonder then that Julian Morris from the Reason Foundation and the International Centre for Law & Economics said earlier in the year that “If the WHO actually wants to help the world’s 1 billion smokers, it should stop telling them that they should ‘commit to quit’. Instead, it should encourage them to find ways to quit smoking using any option that is substantially less harmful and enables them to remain abstinent. It’s time for the WHO to wake up and smell the vapor.” as it now adversely happened!!