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WHO FCTC Rights Violations

The World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control faces allegation of rights violations, according to the Coalition of Asia Pacific Harm Reduction Advocates

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In a submission made to the United Nations Human Rights Council, Nancy Loucas, a prominent consumer advocate and Executive Coordinator of the Coalition of Asia Pacific Harm Reduction Advocates (CAPHRA), has accused the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Secretariat of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) of human rights violations and discrimination.

Loucas, a staunch supporter of harm reduction and tobacco control, alleges undue influence by select non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that are not official members of the FCTC, over the WHO FCTC, leading to the suppression of consumer voices and advocates of harm reduction in tobacco use.

Nancy Loucas states: “I have been involved in consumer advocacy and support of people who smoke using these safer nicotine delivery devices since 2012 - long before there was any industry interest in producing or supplying these devices on the commercial market. Because of my advocacy, I have faced discrimination for challenging public health norms and questioning the evidence used to justify policy.”

Her submission claims that these NGOs have been bullying countries and delegations into compliance with their agenda, effectively silencing the voices of consumers and advocates of harm reduction in tobacco use. This behaviour is said to be in direct violation of the WHO FCTC's own code of conduct, as well as the United Nations' codes regarding discrimination and human rights.

Discrimination and exclusion in decision-making violates the human rights of harm reduction advocates like myself,” said Ms Loucas.

The systematic exclusion and discrimination I am subjected to, and generally suffered by consumers and advocates of the right to harm reduction in tobacco use, violates human rights as all individuals should enjoy the same right to participate, on equal footing, in regional and international decision-making.”

The submission highlights the importance of harm reduction as a human right, referencing the Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion and the International Guidelines on Human Rights and Drug Policy.

Nancy Loucas asserted: “I champion evidence-based policies for people who smoke and insist on including consumer voices in policy discussions. I urge the WHO FCTC Secretariat and other stakeholders to consider all available evidence and to include diverse perspectives, including those of consumers, in their decision-making processes.”

The submission calls for a comprehensive review of the FCTC to ensure that the right to health is protected without infringing on other fundamental human rights. It requests that the Human Rights Council issue a communication to the Secretariat of the FCTC to remind them of their legal obligations relating to human rights and to cease the exclusion and discrimination against nicotine users and advocates for harm reduction.

My submission is a call to action to demand transparency, inclusivity, and respect for human rights in the implementation of international health treaties,” said Ms Loucas.

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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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