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Vicious Vape Advocates

Vape advocates standing outside the COP8 meeting in Switzerland last week were termed “vicious” by the World Health Organisation.

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Rooted in either paranoia or self-interest, the summary of COP8 published on a United Nations website paints vape advocates as extensions of the tobacco industry and calls the harm reduction volunteers “vicious”.

“Tobacco giants are adopting new ways and “disguises” to push their products,” states the UN article, “noxious both for people and the environment, and interfere with government efforts to regulate the sale and use of tobacco, the head of the Secretariat of the WHO FCTC, the United Nations-led tobacco control treaty, has told UN News.”

One of the disguises tobacco controllers believe Big Tobacco has adopted is INNCO – the International Network of Nicotine Consumer Organisations.

INNCO members were banned from attending the event as observers despite trying desperately to gain accreditation. INNCO’s members (like the New Nicotine Alliance) don’t take money or support from the tobacco industry; it just pushes for common sense policies for tobacco-harm reduction products.

"Vicious" INNCO members discuss their COP8 experiences

“They are now using the tools and language of tobacco control advocates to push their dangerous agenda,” said Dr. da Costa e Silva, head of WHO FCTC.

Dangerous agenda? Sensible legislation that supports vaping helps to promote smoking cessation. The biggest crime INNCO has committed is that of questioning the decisions taken by the World Health Organisation behind closed doors.

The late physicist Richard Feynman once said: “Question authority. No idea is true just because someone says so. Test ideas by the evidence gained from observation and experiment! If a favourite idea fails a well-designed test, it's wrong!”

“The problem we’re facing,” continued da Costa, “is that the interference from tobacco giants in public health efforts is becoming increasingly vicious in that they are now using the tools and language of tobacco control advocates to push their dangerous agenda. It is still the same tobacco business interests, with the same intentions, namely profit, but they are using a misleading new disguise, so we have to be twice as vigilant.”

Also in da Costa’s sights is the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World. Although it benefits from a gift of most $1 billion from Philip Morris International, it’s articles of incorporation go to great pains to exclude influence from the tobacco industry.

Judy Gibson, INNCO’s secretary general, rebuked allegations that the organisation was a front for the tobacco industry by posting an image of her luxurious evening meal.

Dr. Marewa Glover is the director of the New Zealand’s Centre of Research Excellence and was presented with INNCO’s 2018 Professional Advocate award. Recently, she wrote about how tobacco control needs a total overhaul.

“I wrote this piece,” said Glover, “because the unintended consequences of tobacco control are wide reaching and harming people, especially the poor, indigenous and mental health clients.”

“The FCTC is a runaway train. The newcomers to public health, that we veterans trained, uncritically swallowed our exaggerated health warnings. They were only too ready to pillory smokers and win awards at global conferences for doing it.”

“Any group known to support ‘new products’ are marked as ‘industry,’ even consumers. All non-medicinally approved tobacco or nicotine products, regardless of their risk profile, are deemed to be the same as the combustible commercial cigarette. Now this is ridiculous.”

A question is posed on the last of the four INNCO COP8 videos: “Do they even want to know what we think?” Going by Tobacco Control’s current attitude, those involved at COP8 don’t appear to have a willingness to embrace harm reduction or change, let alone conversation.

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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