INNCO and the WHO

Posted 25th September 2018 by Dave Cross
INNCO, the International Network of Nicotine Consumer Organisations, has been blocked from attending the upcoming World Health Organisation (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) Conference of Parties (COP), taking place in Geneva this October. As a result, INNCO has written a letter highlighting the absurdity of classifying vaping as tobacco products.

The FCTC treaty is a global treaty on tobacco control, and discussed by the 181 countries that have ratified it at the annual COP. This year is the eight COP – COP8 – and will be held from the 1-6 October in Switzerland, “it will focus on topics such as the shaping of a medium-term strategic framework, which will determine the actions to be taken by the Parties over the next five years, and the advances and challenges revealed in the ‘Global Progress Report on Implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control’.”

INNCO is not funded by or related in any way to any tobacco company or product. It is surprising that the organisation is banned from attending COP8 as an observer, to witness how our governments are acting and what arguments are being put forward to support decisions.

This is not surprising given the closed shop mentality that exists within the WHO. This year’s conference will spend a lot of time discussing the illicit trade in tobacco products – yet Interpol has also been banned from attending.


INNCO has sent a letter in order to convey its feelings on the matter. It states: “WHO should reject prohibition and acknowledge ‘tobacco harm reduction’ and risk-proportionate regulation of tobacco and nicotine products that do not involve combustion as part of an effective harm reduction strategy, which is required and defined by Article 1(d) of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Treaty (FCTC).”

The organisation expresses its concern that there is overt support for outright bans or over-regulation of low-risk alternatives like electronic cigarettes and snus, as well as other lower-risk products.

“We regard prohibition of these products as unethical, unscientific, damaging to public health and an irrational protection of the cigarette trade. We regard excessive regulation or taxation of [harm reduction products] as counterproductive and negligent as harm reduction is a human right. We believe that the FCTC mandate does not extend to [harm reduction products] since they are NOT tobacco products.


INNCO demands that attending governments:

  • Acknowledge that the use of harm reduction products are part of an effective harm reduction strategy
  • Reverse the decision to encourage governments to restrict or ban the manufacture, importation or use of vaping products
  • Confirm that all Parties to the FCTC should regulate harm reduction products separately to traditional combustible tobacco products

 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, dog walker