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Consumers Congregate at Conference

Consumers and vape advocates from around the world came together at last week’s Global Forum on Nicotine in Poland to discuss how to respond to the thread posed by the forthcoming WHO FCTC COP in Panama.

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Consumers and vape advocates from around the world came together at last week’s Global Forum on Nicotine in Poland to discuss how to respond to the thread posed by the forthcoming World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control’s (FCTC) Conference of Parties (COP) in Panama. The sense of a big showdown is palpable – and yet it is difficult to predict the outcome. One thing is certain, vapers have a massive part to play and the need to engage in advocacy with their political representatives is imperative.

Opening the session, Martin Cullip presented a breakdown of the WHO’s timeline, processes and explained the clear threat posed at this year’s COP where the WHO is proposing:

  • A ban on all open system vaping products (anything you can fill or change a coil in)
  • A ban of all eliquid flavours except tobacco
  • A ban on nicotine salts in eliquid vaping products
  • Regulating products so that they are all exactly the same and restrict delivery of nicotine
  • Demanding that countries around the world treat vaping and heated tobacco products exactly the same as they legislate for combustible tobacco
  • Tax at the same rate as cigarettes, banning use where smoking is prohibited, place large graphic health warnings on packaging, adopt plain packaging, and a ban on all advertising, promotion and sponsorships

What ensued was a combination of hope mixed with a sense of a key battle in the war. An overpowering sense is that this is going to be a key battle, a Custer’s Last Stand, a Light Brigade charge, a final assault on the Death Star, or even Peter Griffen vs. the chicken. What isn’t clear is whether advocates and vapers will be left on the winning or losing side.

It’s easy to paint the WHO and Michael Bloomberg as the Nazis manning the emplacements at Normandy with their lies and misinformation, and the consumer advocacy organisations acting as the combined forces of the Axis powers, storming the beaches with evidence and facts.

If there’s one thing we can take from recent history it’s that the good guy doesn’t always win. And, pushing film analogies to the point of tears, The Empire Strikes Back culminates with Dark Bloomberg on top and the Rebel Alliance in tatters – the end of Avengers Infinity War has Thanos Bloomberg clicking his fingers.

If this is the case, will we see our Return of the Jedi? Our own Avengers Endgame?

This in turn raises a question, if the World Health Organisation does get its way, could this prove to be a Pyrrhic victory – one that they achieved through lying and wreaks such a toll on the confidence in its officials that it ultimately leaves the organisation mortally wounded?

What hope do we have?

The experience of the Philippines was relayed to the audience. One where Bloomberg entities attempted to bribe officials into enacting harsh anti harm reduction legislation but were eventually undone by advocates and consumers shining a light on the corruption. One where politicians were bombarded by the weight of evidence in favour of vaping.

At which point a demand is thrown at the collected ensemble: “It’s about us!”

Organisations may be barred from observing the proceedings at this year’s COP – but that isn’t going to stop them attending. It isn’t going to stop them entreating governments to include consumers in their delegations…and if not consumers, then genuine independent experts in tobacco harm reduction who can remind the conference parties that they signed up to the FCTC to reduce harm, who can inform conference parties about the rock-solid independent science.

But they need you, dear vaper. Their voice is your voice – and your voice must be heard by your local politician. Your voice must be heard by the government.

Write, phone, book a surgery appointment with your MP.

If you’d like further information on what to do, read our article Consumers Issued A Call To Action about the New Nicotine Alliance’s appeal.


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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