Ban or restrict vaping.That what the World Health Organization (WHO) encouraged at its tobacco control meeting last week. The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) just concluded its seventh Conference of the Parties (COP7) in Delhi, India.
The result isn’t shocking. This is the position the WHO has always taken on e-cigarettes, and the pre-meeting document issued by the FCTC set the stage by being completely focused on the potential harms of vaping without any consideration of the benefit to millions of smokers.
As we reported last month, the WHO, in “considering the evidence,” skipped right past the 200-page comprehensive review produced by the Royal College of Physicians to cherry pick from biased small studies and promote their own (unpublished) studies.
The delegates also decided they’d prefer to keep their discussions from the prying eyes of the public they work for. As with the last two conferences, the COP7 delegates voted to exclude the public and the press. The stated reason was to prevent “tobacco industry interference.”
Information leaked from the meeting suggested that some countries, including India and Thailand (which boasts a state-owned tobacco company), were pushing to recommend a complete ban on vape products. The final result was less dramatic, but maintained the awful status quo.
“The decision on electronic nicotine delivery systems and electronic non-nicotine delivery systems (ENDS/ENNDS) invites Parties that have not yet banned the importation, sale and distribution of ENDS/ENNDS to consider either prohibition or regulating such products,” says the official press release. That leaves countries free to issue outright bans with the WHO’s blessing.
India, four of whose states already prohibit vapor products, may be planning on a national ban. An unnamed Indian delegate told the newspaper The Hindu, “It now depends on national laws but India is likely to opt for complete prohibition. Other countries might choose to restrict access. India has taken a unified stand against ENDS as there are enough tobacco products in the market already. It will take us years to understand the full effects of ENDS products. There is not enough research and a complete prohibition will help prevent more tobacco-related illnesses.”
A million smokers die prematurely in India every year, but their tobacco control “experts” think that banning e-cigs will reduce tobacco-related illnesses. Where do you suppose that idea came from? From a report based on unpublished studies, discussed at a secret conference, promoted by countries that are protecting their tobacco industries.
Welcome to public health, WHO-style. The “war on tobacco” goes on, and the FCTC’s actions strengthen the very industry they claim to be fighting. Meanwhile, smokers keep dying.