COP Concerns

Posted 10th November 2021 by Dave Cross
Advocates for tobacco harm reduction approaches and vaping have spoken out about the unaccountable World Health Organisation, how COP9 is “concerning”, and how prohibition damages public health. Adam Afriyie MP believes that the United Kingdom should not listen to the World Health Organisation, Professor Polosa worries about the WHO’s indifference to evidence, and Clive Bates has written extensively about the consequences of wrong decisions being made during this week’s event.

Writing for CapX [1], Adam Afriyie says that Brexit has opened up opportunities to expand our approach to tobacco harm reduction and wonders why we need to listen to “the unaccountable, unscientific WHO on vaping”.

To me, the argument has always been clear: smokers are primarily addicted to the nicotine, but it’s the smoking that kills them. So if they can’t quit, why not let them get their nicotine in far less harmful ways? Seems simple, right? Perhaps too simple. Either way, the EU did what it does so well and found a way to drastically over-complicate things.”

Afriyie is concerned that the “unaccountable, unscientific” WHO will replace the EU’s influence over our policy decisions.

Despite having a country, the UK, who adopted electronic cigarettes as a tool to curb its smoking rate, it is alarming that WHO commissions poor quality research and perpetuates misinformation campaigns against them. In the future, we will see if other countries follow the UK’s lead on safer alternative products, forcing WHO to admit its mistakes,” says Professor Riccardo Polosa [2].

His is deeply concerned about this week’s COP: “numerous issues remain obscure, for instance, the lack of a serious discussion on tobacco harm reduction, and secrecy surrounding the topics to be discussed. A practice is driven by a censorship approach that does not accurately reflect current tobacco control policies that are enigmatic, not based on science, and based on censorship of media outlets. The FCTC has lost sight of its original purpose: to ensure safe and healthy lives for everyone, wherever they live in the world.”


Clive Bates builds on this concern and examines how the WHO “aggressively” promotes the banning of safer alternatives such as vapes, snus, and heated tobacco products [3].

The effect,” he says, “if not the intent, is to protect the cigarette trade from competition, to promote black markets, to stimulate harmful workarounds, to nurture criminal networks, to harm young people, and to prolong the epidemic of avoidable smoking related-disease.

“It’s a reckless policy, built on misplaced righteousness, defended by bureaucratic inertia, sustained by group-think, and cultivated by elitist billionaire foundation money. It’s a curse and a blight on public health, and government representatives should apply real-world policy disciplines and reject it.”


  1. Britain should not listen to the unaccountable, unscientific WHO on vaping -
  2. COP9/Riccardo Polosa -
  3. Prohibitionists at work: how the WHO damages public health through hostility to tobacco harm reduction -

 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, motorbikes, and dog walker
Vape Green