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Support For Global Advocacy

Support has been given out to tobacco harm reduction/vape advocacy organisations around the world in preparation for the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control COP10

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Support has been given out to tobacco harm reduction/vape advocacy organisations around the world in preparation for the World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control COP10. Advocates in Australia have prepared a template letter and assembled a spreadsheet of email contacts for the head of every nation’s delegation.

Warning advocacy organisations that they only have until mid-March to contact the heads of delegations (after which countries will already have sent responses to the World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control), the Coalition of Asia Pacific Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates has provided comprehensive support.

For the United Kingdom, the delegation contacts are Alison Walker at the Department of Health and Social Care ([email protected]) and Matthew Birkenshaw, also at the Department of Health and Social Care ([email protected]).

The template letter reads as follows:

We are contacting you on behalf of the XX million current users of safer nicotine products in XX.  As you are aware, our current policy regarding nicotine access and choice for adults who smoke, via the medical model, has not been as effective as had been hoped by the XX.
“In light of this, we wish to bring to your attention that, as our country head of delegation, your mandate is to represent the millions of XX who have a right to health and harm reduction, as outlined in Article 1D  of the FCTC.

“As you are undoubtedly aware, the FCTC has a mandate to pursue Harm Reduction as a core tobacco control policy. While everyone agrees on the desirability of getting all consumers to stop smoking, arguments concerning means to achieve this have been divisive and, in many cases, complicated, often with deliberate misinformation.  This misinformation and disinformation informs policy that does not address the real issue that the treaty was designed for - combustible tobacco and its harms.

“We call your attention to the recent controversies surrounding the science around nicotine and vaping that are being used to justify the WHO FCTC position on these products.  You will find a white paper that outlines the studies that have disproven some of the more outrageous claims of harm from nicotine and vaping and is attached herein. 

“We especially wish to direct your attention to two studies that have been quoted by tobacco controllers about the dangers of nicotine and vaping, that have been retracted (removed) from medical journals.

“The first retraction is an article published in February 2022 in The World Journal of Oncology claiming that nicotine vapers face about the same cancer risk as cigarette smokers. ‘After publication of this article,’ the editors explain, ‘concerns have been raised regarding the article's methodology, source data processing including statistical analysis, and reliability of conclusions.’ Because ‘the authors failed to provide justified explanations and evidence for the inquires [sic], subsequently this article has been retracted at the request of Editor-in-Chief’.

“Some of the concerns raised by this article are similar to the problems with other studies that have linked vaping to diseases. Most conspicuously, this study failed to address the question of whether diagnoses were made before or after people started vaping, a minimum requirement for inferring causation.

“In 2020, the same problem led to the retraction of a Journal of the American Heart Association article that reported an association between vaping and heart attacks.  This latter article is still used as a reference in the WHO FCTC guidelines around e-cigarettes, even though it has been retracted for well over two years.

“Similarly, there has been the withholding of data and information that would assist you to effectively assess the alleged ‘youth vaping epidemic’.  For example, a new survey  from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Food & Drug Administration (FDA) suggests that youth vaping rates appear to be dropping, compared to pre-pandemic levels.  The data showed 9.4% of middle and high schoolers surveyed reported currently using e-cigarettes. Whereas, in 2019 20% of middle and high school students reported currently vaping. In 2020, that number was 13.1%.

“When you look at just middle school students, just 3.3% are vaping.  The youth vaping rate in the United States has been in steady decline. In fact, youth vaping in the US has plummeted by 60% over the past two years. Likewise in countries like New Zealand, data continues to show that very few non-smoking teenagers take up vaping, and that vaping is an offramp to smoking, not an onramp, as some more strident science deniers would have us all believe.

“The FCTC has a mandate to pursue Harm Reduction as a core tobacco control policy, a position it has singularly failed to acknowledge or implement since its inception. While everyone agrees on the desirability of getting all consumers to stop smoking, arguments concerning means to achieve this have been divisive and, in many cases, complicated, often with deliberate misinformation, such as the examples provided above.

“By choosing to ignore the issues with science that confirms the benefits of nicotine and vaping and instead forging ahead with restrictions and bans; WHO and its FCTC continues to press for signatory states to adopt ever more restrictive policies, including outright bans, based on dubious science.

“Delegates to CoP 10 should be representing the rights and aspirations of the citizens whose taxes are paying for their attendance, who expect them to speak on their behalf, acknowledge the science underpinning the harm reduction benefits of ENDS, and maintain democratic principles. Consumers – voters – have the right to make choices that help them avoid adverse health outcomes and smokers have the right to access less harmful nicotine products as alternatives to smoking. We ask you to take account of this right when making your submission to CoP 10 and presenting it in November 2023 in Panama.”

Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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