The World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) is holding its eighth biennial Conference of the Parties (COP) in Geneva this week from 1st to 6th October. Sadly, the FCTC is known for the rejecting the science in favour of e-cigarettes for smoking cessation, and insisting on abstinence-only methods.
Hence, the NNA is urging UK delegates in attendance, to take this opportunity to raise awareness about the significant drop on smoking rates that the country is witnessing, since it has endorsed e-cigarettes and other alternatives for smoking cessation.
“E-cigarettes are a proven safer alternative to smoking and the UK boasts over 1.7 million former smokers who have converted from combustible tobacco to exclusively vaping instead. In the UK, the government has wisely recognised the significant benefits that tobacco harm reduction strategies can achieve and, as a result of positive messaging towards vaping with campaigns such as Stoptober, has seen smoking prevalence dramatically plummet in recent years.” said NNA Chair Sarah Jakes.
An opportunity to spread the truth
The NNA sees this as an opportunity to communicate to global public health representatives the clear and unequivocal message that e-cigarettes and other alternative nicotine products are far safer than combustible tobacco and should be treated as such.
“COP8 is a perfect opportunity for the UK to showcase this success and share our positive experience with the world. How can it be right that developed nations are enjoying great results in reducing the use of combustible tobacco by making safer alternatives available to smokers but sit by as less affluent nations are being railroaded into banning them by the WHO?” added Jakes.
The WHO endorses harm reduction in principle, but not in reality
The alliance pointed out that ironically the WHO endorses harm reduction in principle, however it then urges all nations to ban the use of e-cigarettes. On the other hand, the UK government’s Tobacco Control Plan is committed to endorsing any innovative products that could help smokers quit, and are backed by science.
“The WHO likes to talk about the right to health, but why is a smoker in India or Africa less entitled to access products which could help them quit smoking than a smoker in the UK or Canada?”, said Jakes.
“Furthermore, we have heard worrying reports that the EU is planning to petition the FCTC to call for a global ban on e-cigarette advertising. It would be scandalous if the UK delegation is complicit in such an unwise move and goes against the government’s commitment to improve availability of innovative products. What is the point of talking positively of safer alternatives while simultaneously stopping smokers from seeing any publicity about them?”
“In Geneva, the UK’s representatives have a golden opportunity to promote the UK’s success with safer nicotine products. We provide the FCTC with generous funding to reduce smoking rates in underdeveloped nations. We would therefore urge the government to use the influence our financial contribution brings and do the right thing. That is to reject prohibition of harm reduction which less affluent nations feel obliged to implement due to WHO misinformation, urge the FCTC to adhere to its own articles on the subject, and resist restrictions on promotion of less harmful alternatives to smoking,” concluded Sarah Jakes.