72 Experts

Posted 3rd October 2018 by Dave Cross
As experts in harm reduction have been blocked from attending the World Health Organisation FCTC Conference of the Parties in Geneva, a group of 72 leading figures have co-signed a letter, registering their concern and suggesting tobacco-harm reduction is a better way.

The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control attempts to “establish norms for regulation of tobacco commerce within countries – a kind of solidarity mechanism for national anti-tobacco policy,” according to Clive Bates.

Clive points out what we can all see happening, “this idea all goes sour when the WHO, Convention Secretariat and/or Parties agree, in solidarity, to normalise truly terrible policies.”

This approach has led to the categorisation of ecigs as tobacco products, the banning of vape products in some nations, and even to the extent (in some Indian states) of criminalising the act of vaping.

Such approaches shore up the value of tobacco company share prices and prompt vapers to return to using combustible tobacco. The banning of vaping in Australia has seen quit rates slow then, last month, the revealing statistic of smoking rates rising again.

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Last month, Clive Bates, Professor David Abrams, Professor Raymond Niaura and David Sweanor wrote a joint letter to the Director General of The World Health Organisation, stating that the WHO’s “hostility to tobacco harm reduction” is “misplaced”, and called on it to change its approach and put “the health goal first”.

Bates writes: “Determined to resist this drift into globally harmful policy promotion, a group of 72 of us have put together a letter to register our concern and to suggest there is a better way: to embrace tobacco harm reduction.”

The list of co-signatories:

  • David B. Abrams, PhD
  • Marion Adler, PhD
  • Jasjit S Ahluwalia, MD, MPH, MS
  • Sanjay Agrawal, MD, MBChB
  • Philippe Arvers, MD, PhD
  • Frank Baeyens, PhD
  • Shamsul Bahri Mohd Tamrin
  • Scott D. Ballin, JD
  • Clive Bates, MA, MSc
  • Robert Beaglehole, MD, DSc, FRSNZ
  • Mihi Blair (Ngāti Whātua)
  • Anne Borgne, MD
  • Ron Borland, PhD
  • Thomas H. Brandon, PhD
  • John Britton, MD
  • Dr Jamie Brown, PhD CPsychol
  • Jean-Pierre Couteron
  • Sharon Cox, PhD
  • Kenneth Michael Cummings, PhD
  • Lynne Dawkins, PhD
  • Jean-Michel Delile, MD
  • Allan C. Erickson
  • Jean-François Etter, PhD
  • Konstantinos Farsalinos, MD, MPH
  • Prof. Antoine Flahault, MD, PhD
  • Jonathan Foulds, PhD
  • Thomas J. Glynn, PhD
  • Peter Hajek, PhD
  • Wayne Hall, PhD
  • Natasha A. Herrera
  • Martin J Jarvis, DSc OBE
  • Martin Juneau , MPs, MD, FRCPC
  • Dr.Aparajeet Kar, MD
  • Leon Kosmider, PhD, PharmD
  • Lynn T. Kozlowski, PhD
  • Hiroya Kumamaru, MD, PhD
  • Christopher E. Lalonde, PhD
  • Murray Laugesen QSO
  • Jacques Le Houezec, PhD
  • William Lowenstein, MD
  • Karl E Lund, PhD
  • Bernhard-Michael Mayer, PhD
  • Olivia Maynard, PhD
  • Andy McEwen, PhD
  • Ann McNeill PhD
  • Klim McPherson, PhD, FMedSci, Hon FRCP
  • Colin Mendelsohn
  • Robin Mermelstein, PhD
  • Faares Mili, MD
  • Thomas J. Miller; Marcus Munafò, PhD
  • Raymond Niaura, PhD
  • Caitlin Notley, PhD
  • David Nutt, DM, FRCP, FRCPsych, FMedSci, DLaws
  • Konstantinos Poulas, PhD
  • Philippe Presles, MD; Lars M. Ramström, PhD
  • Vaughan Rees, PhD
  • Steven A. Schroeder, MD
  • John R. Seffrin , PhD
  • Lion Shahab, PhD
  • Rajesh N. Sharan, Ph. D.
  • Michael Siegel, MD, MPH
  • Roberto A Sussman, PhD
  • David Sweanor, JD
  • Professor Umberto Tirelli MD
  • Natalie Walker, PhD
  • Kenneth Warner, PhD
  • Alex Wodak
  • Naohito Yamaguchi, MD
  • Ben Youdan

They open: “We write to express our hope that WHO will assume a leadership role in promoting effective and fast-acting policies for regulating tobacco and nicotine.  In this letter, we propose that WHO and related stakeholders adopt a more positive approach to new technologies and innovations that have the potential to bring the epidemic of smoking-caused disease to a more rapid conclusion.”


And conclude: “We believe that it is time for tobacco control to embrace tobacco harm reduction. We hope that WHO and Parties to the FCTC will advance this agenda at the Eighth Conference of the Parties of the FCTC, starting today.  We will share this letter with relevant stakeholders.”

None of those signing the letter hold any conflicts of interest with respect to the tobacco industry and comply with Article 5.3 of the FCTC – not that the delegates at COP8 appear to care as they push forward with their celebration of ignorance.

A PDF version of the letter can be downloaded here: Innovation in tobacco control: developing the FCTC to embrace tobacco harm reduction

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