“We know [the Framework Convention] is fit for purpose, because [of the] industry’s endless attempts to impede our efforts,” she exclaimed, ignoring that civil society and consumers are the main ones objecting to the FCTC’s lack of transparency, inclusion, and ignoring key evidence.
Blanco Marquizo reckons the conference has grown “from strength-to-strength” with its “collective determination to put an end to the tobacco epidemic”.
“Strength to strength” maybe somewhat of an exaggeration given the frequent reports of screens around the world going black, the loss of sound, and the recurrent dropping of translation services.
The person ultimately responsible for the event termed these “small technical hiccups” and still delivered her thanks to the behind-the-scenes team.
“A very big thank you to all of the committed professionals who ensured that every day, not only did the show go on, it went on in multiple languages, with full documentation, and revised texts appearing like clockwork” - unless you were an interested party barred from proceedings, in which case the small technical hiccups are more a way of life.
The one thing the FCTC has been accused of is being more interested in money than saving lives, and this featured heavily in Blanco Marquizo’s speech: “This COP has certainly seen a number of highlights. Agreeing on the means to ensure a new stream of reliable and steady funding has been a major achievement and bodes well for the future of our work.”
She continued: “We can now work on attracting investors to a fund that will increase our ability to implement tobacco control measures and to save lives. That is an exciting outcome of which we can all be proud.”
Except the money will support an anti-nicotine stance that ignores the role of tobacco harm reduction products and drives vapers back to smoking – nothing that ought to promote a feeling of self-satisfaction.
Laughably, she added: “We – the Convention Secretariat and our colleagues in WHO - support your work with evidence-based information to underpin your decisions aimed at improving global health.”
Evidence-based? This is the organisation that declared vaping to be “dangerous” and argues it doesn’t work as a smoking cessation tool.
“The Secretariat continues to be outward looking, seeking new ways to build and strengthen relationships with international bodies and other stakeholders,” unless those stakeholders are smokers, ex-smokers, and vapers.
“The declaration made by COP9 on the WHO FCTC and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic serves to emphasise … that we must remain aware of the inherent and irreconcilable conflicts between the tobacco industry’s interests and public health policy needs.”
In this, Blanco Marquizo sums up the problem faced by tobacco harm reduction and vaping. Simply because the tobacco industry recognised a consumer-driven, independent product was now a bigger threat to its business than anything posed by the FCTC, it began a root and branch change to its enterprise. It is now impossible for those driving the FCTC to frame vaping as anything other than in terms of Big Tobacco.
Until a way is found to convince the Parties to the convention to accept the reality of vaping, Blanco Marquizo’s vision of a “tobacco-free future” will never come to pass.