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A Complete COP Out

COP10 “adopted historic decisions”, according to the World Health Organization, but the truth is the event was a shambles and bogged down in disagreement

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The World Health Organization (WHO) believes that its Tenth session of the Conference of Parties (COP10) to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) concluded by adopting “historic decisions” that will protect the environment and people from “the ravages of tobacco”.

We have taken an historic decision on Article 18,” said Dr Adriana Blanco Marquizo, Head of the WHO FCTC Secretariat, describing action to strengthen the article of WHO FCTC focused on the protection of the environment and the health of all people.

 “The decision urges Parties to take account of the environmental impacts from the cultivation, manufacture, consumption and waste disposal of tobacco products, and to strengthen the implementation of this article, including through national policies related to tobacco and protection of the environment.”

Laughably, Marquizo’s press release lays claim that the event was “open to the media, which had the opportunity to observe all public and open sessions, enabling  reporters to witness more than 1000 delegates from around the world unite over six days to consider and take action on important issues related to implementation of the Convention.”

Euroreporter’s Political Editor Nick Powell tells a different tale: “Like many journalists, I was refused accreditation but that made little difference as the conference voted to exclude the press. That was shortly after the organisers cut off the microphone of a delegate who had the temerity to suggest that the priority should be harm reduction.”

Powell recounts an organisation in disarray, with arguments between evidence and anecdote – and complete fiction when it comes to the cancer risk of vaping.

So, without any agreement among the nations, what does the WHO do? It issues an edict based on the experience of one country, Laos.

E-cigarettes as consumer products are not shown to be effective for quitting tobacco use,” says Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, laying claim to “mounting evidence” that reveals “alarming adverse health effects”.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged countries to implement “strict measures” against vapes and praised Laos’ “strong leadership and rapid action when it comes to e-cigarettes and legislation around them”.

Why yes, the same Laos that allows packs of cigarettes to go on sale for 25p each. The country with a vape ban rivalling the stupidity of its ban on “intimate relationships” between unmarried citizens and foreigners.

And where do the cheap cigarettes come from in Laos? Lao Tobacco Limited holds 77.3% of the home tobacco market - a joint venture between the government of Laos and the tobacco industry.

So, while the WHO praises Laos’ total ban of e-cigarettes, 7329 nationals die from smoking every year. The organisation cops out once more from telling the truth – or even calling out the lies of Parties signed up to the FCTC. The WHO remains unfit for purpose when it comes to tobacco harm reduction.

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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