Turkey keeps vape ban; great job, says WHO

It’s nothing new for the WHO to encourage bans on alternatives to smoking

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Erdogan picture

Turkey will maintain its ban on the sale and manufacture of vaping and heat-not-burn products, and the World Health Organization (WHO) is so delighted that it issued a press release applauding the country.

In Turkey, 28.8 percent of all adults smoke cigarettes daily — more than double the rate of daily smoking in the U.S. and U.K., where e-cigarettes and other low-risk nicotine products are widely available.

The WHO issued a press release to praise the authoritarian Turkish government for the move. Turkey had planned to relax its laws and allow vaping and heat-not-burn products, but changed its plans — probably due to pressure from the WHO. The press release describes “strong public reaction to the threats posed by the tobacco industry’s proposals to begin importing and producing heat-not-burn and ENDS products in the country.”

Apparently those are the remarkable results the WHO wants to see.

But the public reaction appears to be nothing more than WHO-organized public health drones complaining that their publicly funded world might get upset by the sale of low-risk alternatives to cigarettes. An October press conference saw “WHO and prominent academics and health specialists jointly voicing their condemnation of the tobacco industry’s proposed new strategy.”

The “new strategy” the WHO decried is apparently the sale of reduced-risk products. Objections to smokers lowering (or maybe even eliminating) their risk by replacing inhaled smoke with vapor is more a matter of protecting the worldwide tobacco control industry than protecting the health of the public.

Professor Hilal Özcebe, a professor at Hacettepe University, claimed that vapor and HNB products are as dangerous as smoking — an outright lie. “The tobacco industry states that electronic products have fewer negative effects on public health but this is a totally false argument,” she said, according to the press release.

She added that “electronic devices have the same level of nicotine as widely used products [cigarettes], causing similar vascular disorders and cardiovascular diseases.” There is no evidence that nicotine causes long-term cardiovascular problems. But smoking does, and none of the Turkish “health advocates” are proposing a cigarette ban.

For the WHO to allow such blatant misinformation to be spread without correction is an abdication of a commitment to public health — and its own guiding principles. “Informed opinion and active co-operation on the part of the public are of the utmost importance in the improvement of the health of the people,” says the WHO’s constitution.

An official from the Turkish Green Crescent Society (a non-profit organization that exists to fight smoking, drinking, and other “addictions”) said that Turkey has engaged in “remarkable efforts” to implement the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). This was done, he said, by “raising public awareness, with the support of the Turkish Government, civil society and organizations such as Green Crescent.”

The remarkable success looks more like a concerted effort to protect cigarette sales. More than 43 percent of Turkish men smoke, along with 18.2 percent of women. Among 13-15 year olds, 16.8 percent use tobacco.

Apparently those are the remarkable results the WHO wants to see. By encouraging vaping and snus bans, and discouraging tobacco companies from moving to reduced-risk products, the United Nations health agency is bound to get all the disease and death it could hope for.

Jim McDonald

I spend most of my time studying the regulatory, legislative and scientific challenges to vaping, advocating for our right to exist, and talking with others who do the same. Consider me a source for information, and feel free to agree or disagree with anything I say. I love good coffee and sweet Michigan cherries. My childhood hero was Gordie Howe.

  • mithril

    I’m planning a vacation in Turkey next year and I would really like to know if I can bring my mod and e-liquid with me there.
    I’d rather not get a fine or get into trouble.
    Any turkish vapers out there that can shed some light into this?

    • Emre Üstdağ

      you can bring them with you there is no fine whatsoever unless you bring too much stuff then they might suspect that you will sell them. Although vape is banned in Turkey, some people bring vapes by using illegal ways and it is actually pretty common so you may see people on the street vaping 🙂

      • mithril

        I see. Would 60ml be a problem?
        Thank you for answering!

        • Samet Körpe

          No , its wont be a problem. Dont worry.

          • Samet Körpe

            And u can find what u want in our country. All liquids and vaping things selling at facebook groups. I can help u for supply , i will add u to the groups. Everything is OK dude 🙂

  • Serdarcan Babaoglu

    This has nothing to do with WHO pressuring the government. Selling and distributing vaping products in Turkey is banned because of extremely high tax rates on tobacco and related products. Around 50 percent of the population uses tobacco products daily in Turkey so those numbers are not true. There are government funded anti-smoking ads running on the TV for years now, laws that ban smoking in all indoor spaces. Not only these don’t help but the smoking situation got worse than before. In Turkey, average daily smoker smokes at least a pack of ciggarettes. Average price of a pack is around 10-11 Turkish liras. Average production cost of said pack is 1 lira. The rest is all tax. So go figure.

    Also most exotic tobacco products are banned in Turkey. Stuff like Captain Black, Djarum and raw tobacco. Only normal high production packs are sold legally. The others are sold illegaly because of the high prices of normal tobacco products.

    The law that was said to be passed would not help us vapers at all. Because that law was aimed at a specific dry herb vaporizer called iqos made by British Tobacco. Most vapers don’t even want to use those kinds of devices which are both crap and expensive. Heck most starter kits would do way better than that.

    The doctors professors etc. in Turkey that talk crap about vaping on various media outlets are blatant liars and know nothing of vaping and its harms. They are just paid shills either by the tobacco company or the government. There is no objective research done on e-cigs in our Universities. There are almost daily news about how e-cigs are toxic how mods explode on both the papers and the TV just to keep it away from peoples sight. Just to keep the tobacco money flowing.

    The money makers are scared of vaping since their income has been reduced quite a bit. So they are waging war against not just vape products but also the people who vape. Turkey is the perfect battleground for this since the government relies only on the unfair tax income and favors daily tobacco tax over vaping tax any day.

  • tropicalspeed

    Turkey; one of the tobacco capitals of the world is banning vaping? why am I not surprised?