Just two weeks out from the World Health Organization’s COP9 conference on tobacco control, pressure is mounting on delegates from 182 member countries to push for a positive stance on Tobacco Harm Reduction (THR).
The calls come as a significant round-the-clock global broadcasting event has been announced to take place during COP9. Dubbed ‘sCOPe’, the five-day livestream will see THR experts and consumers, from around the world, challenge and scrutinise the key conference.
The Ninth Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP9) to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) starts on Monday, 8 November. Involving 182 parties, or countries, it will be held online and behind closed doors.
Now, an open letter from 100 global experts slamming the WHO’s misguided and unscientific anti-vaping stance is receiving considerable international media coverage and commentary.
In the letter, addressed to the FCTC member countries’ heads of delegation, the nicotine science and policy experts criticise the WHO for stubbornly ‘rejecting a public health strategy that could avoid millions of smoking-related deaths.’ Making six recommendations, they call on the FCTC to ‘modernise’ its approach to tobacco policy.
Nancy Loucas, sCOPe event organiser, says the broadcasting event will demand delegates stand up to the WHO’s outrageously arrogant attitude and blatantly wrong advice towards safer nicotine products.
“The world’s leading THR experts will not be silenced, nor will consumers. That’s why sCOPe will broadcast the whole time COP9 is on. It’s long overdue for delegates to stand up to the WHO’s outrageously arrogant attitude and blatantly wrong advice towards safer nicotine products. sCOPe will prove that it’s money, not science, that’s driving the WHO’s anti-vape crusade,” says Nancy Loucas, sCOPe event organiser.
To be simulcast on YouTube and Facebook, sCOPe is a co-operative effort by THR consumer organisations globally. Totally excluded from COP9 despite being the main stakeholders, vapers and other safer nicotine consumers are being called to promote and mobilise around sCOPe.
“The 100 global THR experts are right to blast the WHO for being completely dismissive of the potential to transform the tobacco market from high-risk to low-risk products. As well as that open letter adding to the precariousness of the WHO’s increasingly untenable position, we’re seeing the drums beating louder for those countries supportive of vaping to sing their successes at COP9,” says Ms Loucas.
Following New Zealand legalising and regulating vaping last year, the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union (NZTU) is now calling on Ministry of Health delegates to use COP9 to promote the country’s THR strategy which has helped achieve record low smoking rates. NZTU is also pressuring Associate Health Minister Ayesha Verrall to support the formation of an inter-sessional working group to examine evidence on vaping as a harm reduction tool at COP9.
Meanwhile, The International Network of Nicotine Consumer Organisations (INNCO) has announced an ‘Everyone Deserves Harm Reduction Rally’ at London’s Parliament Square at 10.00am on 8 November. INNCO praises the UK government for its ‘valiant support for safer nicotine alternatives that save lives’. Its well-timed rally, however, is aimed at alerting the public to COP9 and to encourage the UK government and others to play a pivotal role.
Ms Loucas says the growing stress on November’s COP9 also includes some massive news just out of the United States.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which regulates medical products in the US, approved an e-cigarette for sale for the first time. Authorising the marketing of three products, the FDA concluded that the benefit to adults trying to quit smoking outweighs the risk of teenagers becoming hooked.
“We’re witnessing loudening calls from global experts and organisations. We’ve seen the FDA just announce an historic e-cigarette approval, and now consumers from around the world are coming together to broadcast a significant livestream event to counter COP9.
“Yet, despite all this pressure, the WHO will continue to totally undermine vaping. Not to be silenced, sCOPe will join many others from across the globe demanding delegates at COP9 stand up for science. Every adult has the right to be fully informed and have access to safer nicotine options,” says Nancy Loucas.
sCOPe will be simulcast on YouTube at https://bit.ly/3aWBPxi
For a free digital media repository on tobacco harm reduction in Asia Pacific – including media releases, images and graphics – please visit https://apthrmedia.org