WHO Wants To Ban Vaping?

Posted 4th March 2021 by Dave Cross
“MILLIONS of Brits are facing a ban on vaping,” ran one headline. “E-cigarettes in the UK could be BANNED under World Health Organisation recommendations to outlaw vaping,” screamed another. It stands as one of the stupidest things the WHO has ever attempted as it spectacularly backfired.

The Bloomberg bankrolled plan includes two prohibition measures according to consumer group INNCO(1):

  • To prohibit electronic nicotine delivery systems and electronic non-nicotine delivery systems over which the user can control device features and liquid ingredients (that is, open systems)
  • To prohibit the sale of electronic nicotine delivery systems that have a higher abuse liability than conventional cigarettes, for example by restricting the emission rate or/flux of nicotine

Open systems refer to any device where the user can change the coil and add their own e-liquid. This method of vaping is preferred by 77% of all vapers in the United Kingdom.

The WHO’s justification for proposing to ban all open systems is based in the ill-founded fear that vapers can add other substances to the e-liquid – something that has not been an issue in over ten years of vape devices being on the market.

The papers quoted harm reduction expert Clive Bates saying: “The advice is completely irresponsible and bizarre. If governments take it seriously, they will be protecting the cigarette trade, encouraging smoking and adding to a huge toll of cancer, heart and lung disease. Something has gone badly wrong here.”

Readers of the Sunday papers also heard from Queen Mary University’s Peter Hajek, another leading expert and the man behind the ground-breaking study confirming that vaping more effective than NRT products. He told them: “There is no evidence vaping is highly addictive. There is clear evidence that e-cigarettes help smokers quit.”


One also quoted James Dunworth, chairman of E-Cigarette Direct(2) commenting: “A ban would lead to the unnecessary early deaths of smokers and an explosion in the black market.”

The Daily Star had to resort to citing a comical study(3) by Thomas Eissenberg for “balance”. Eissenberg is a consultant in litigation against the electronic cigarette industry which makes his unevidenced opinion redundant.

We Vapes’ Mark Oates stated: "Despite the fact that the Conservative Government and our institutions are supportive of vaping we still need to encourage our Government to go out to bat for harm reduction on the world stage and at this year’s COP9."

"There are many forces at play internationally that would rather trample over the UK's vaping success than encourage those same policies to be introduced across the world."

"The proposals to ban open systems aren't about improving public health, quite the opposite, they will support cigarettes and damage the very innovation and free choice that helped millions quit smoking."


The Independent British Vape Trade Association (IBVTA) calls the reports “extremely misleading”. The organisation says: “The next Conference of Parties for the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC COP9) will be in The Hague later this year, so there is a massive opportunity for UK Government agencies to enlighten other countries on the amazing things that have been achieved so far.

“The IBVTA has already been in active dialogue with those agencies and other stakeholders, to help ensure an important part of recent UK social history is seen in a genuine and positive light.”

The UK continues to be a world leader in harm reduction through vaping


The IBVTA(4) celebrated that the UK remains a world leader in the use of vaping for tobacco harm reduction and spoke highly about, “the seventh annual report on vaping that PHE [Public Health England]”, which “gives detail of excellent relative safety of vaping to smoking, reassuringly low youth uptake of vaping, and for the first time, incontrovertible evidence that vaping is effective in helping people to quit smoking; almost twice as effective as traditional NRT, in fact.”

It continues: “The IBVTA can only express disappointment that the UK media failed to notice this remarkably good news story, yet some were in favour of creating an alarming but totally misleading narrative over this past weekend.

“This wealth of credible independent data has given the Government the confidence to take a more positive position towards vaping and the regulation of vaping. There is a thriving and responsible vape industry serving these consumers, and smoking rates are at a record low level.”


The UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA) also responded to the reports. It told Planet of the Vapes: “The World Health Organization risks being labelled an ‘enemy of harm-reduction’ if its inaccurate and unscientific treatment of vaping continues. The UKVIA has questioned the credibility of the WHO and says that it out of touch with growing evidence on the public health potential of vaping. Recent recommendations made by the WHO study group on Tobacco Product Regulations would prohibit electronic nicotine and non-nicotine delivery systems where the user can control device features and liquid ingredients.”

John Dunne, Director General at the UKVIA, says the WHO poses a real threat to smoking-cessation and harm-reduction in the UK: “While the WHO is scheduled to hold a crucial summit on vaping in November 2021, known as COP9, it continues to find itself at odds with health and industry advocates.

“Certain WHO positions are now so out of date, and so thoroughly refuted by the experts, that they may as well be saying the earth is flat. They deviate dramatically from leading experts, including Public Health England (PHE) and Action on Smoking and Health (ASH).

“Take for example vaping helping people to quit smoking, which the WHO says there is ‘little evidence’ of. As early as 2019 clinical trials were finding vaping to be almost twice as effective as nicotine replacement therapy (NRT).

“Just this month, Public Health England (PHE) found in its Vaping Evidence Review 2021 that smoking quit rates involving a vaping product were higher than with any other method in every single English region. For the WHO to hold such contrary views is either bad science or bad faith. both risk it becoming an enemy of harm-reduction.”

88 Vape

Dunne added: “Vaping’s success as an industry, and its potential for public health improvements, is built on empowering personal choice. Different systems, styles and flavours give consumers the options they need to leave combustible cigarettes behind. I would urge the WHO to engage with vapers, to hear their stories and discover the life-changing decisions they’ve made in their lives. Prohibition is simply not the answer.”


  1. To Members of the World Health Organization Executive Board, INNCO - https://innco.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/19-January-2021-INNCO-comments-to-WHO-Executive-Board-re-Study-Group-on-Tobacco-Products-Regulation.pdf
  2. James Dunworth - https://www.ecigarettedirect.co.uk/james-dunworth-bio
  3. Invalidity of an Oft-Cited Estimate of the Relative Harms of Electronic Cigarettes - https://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/10.2105/AJPH.2019.305424
  4. The Independent British Vape Trade Association - https://www.ibvta.org.uk
  5. The UK Vaping Industry Association - www.ukvia.co.uk

Image by Andrew Martin from Pixabay

 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, motorbikes, and dog walker
Legion of Vapers