Asia-Pacific countries should challenge the World Health Organization’s stance against vaping, an innovative product that has helped reduce smoking rates in New Zealand, UK, France and Canada , according to consumer groups.
The Nicotine Consumers Union of the Philippines (NCUP) and Vaper Ako notably called on the Philippine government to join the four vaping-friendly countries in rebuking WHO’s extremist stance on vaping that deprives millions of smokers of better alternatives to combustible cigarettes.
Ministry of Health delegates attending the Conference of the Parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) in November should reflect on the interests of more than 16 million Filipino smokers who deserve better options than stop or die. WHO-prescribed approach, depending on the group.
âBecause of its refusal to recognize innovation in the nicotine industry, the WHO has lost a sense of what is right and not for the more than 1.1 billion smokers around the world. It is time for countries like the Philippines to remind the WHO FCTC of their commitment to tobacco harm reduction, âsaid Anton Israel, President of NCUP.
Israel was referring to the fourth pillar of the FCTC which is harm reduction and the international human right to health.
Studies show that if they don’t quit smoking or switch to less harmful alternatives, almost half of smokers will die from smoking-related cardiovascular disease. The WHO has estimated that more than 8 million smokers already die each year.
âThe Department of Health should stand up for the sake of millions of Filipino smokers and ignore the WHO’s political preference to leave them alone to die without any alternative. The quit or die approach is an extremist ideology that has no place in modern public health strategies, âIsrael said.
NCUP and Vaper Ako said the Philippines should instead follow the lead of New Zealand which has taken an independent approach on vaping to reduce smoking rates.
A research paper recently found that the four jurisdictions relatively favorable to vaping – New Zealand, the United Kingdom, France and Canada – have smoking cessation rates twice as fast as the global average. This despite the WHO’s political preference against innovative nicotine products such as electronic cigarettes.
Louis Houlbrooke, the director of campaigns for the New Zealand Taxpayers Union and a Vaper, said New Zealand has once again opposed WHO orthodoxy as the country’s health ministry now recognizes that vaping is 95% less harmful than smoking and has even launched a “quit smoking” public information campaign targeting smokers.
âOur Ministry of Health flirts with a more independent approach. Annual tobacco tax hikes have been phased out in light of growing evidence of the policy’s disastrous impact on household budgets. The tax also contributes to robberies and a thriving black market. KPMG estimates that more than one in ten cigarettes smoked in New Zealand is smuggled or produced locally, âsaid Houlbrooke, who contributed a New Zealand case study to a new article on international best practices in vaping matter.
“The fact that the WHO gave us the top marks on its political scoreboard for such a damaging tax undermines the credibility of the organization,” he said.
Houlbrooke said that while New Zealand’s new restrictions on vape flavors, advertising and nicotine strength would prevent some smokers from making the switch, the Department of Health should be proud to oversee a diet that allows smokers. escape death and taxes with less damage, more affordable products.
Delegates from New Zealand and other countries will attend the biannual WHO tobacco control conference in November. The Conference of the Parties or COP9 will update WHO decrees to countries it says are in desperate need of moral guidance in the war on tobacco, according to Houlbrooke.
âAt first glance, WHO’s political preferences reveal a unique focus on public health outcomes, to hell with economic consequences. But even on fundamental public health issues, the WHO is ideologically driven, âHoulbrooke said.
He said the WHO is currently obsessed with the “threats posed by new nicotine and tobacco products” like e-cigarettes, pushing for strict bans and regulations that ignore the role of vaping as an aid to quitting. smoke and ignore Public Health England’s widely recognized conclusion that vaping is 95% less harmful than cigarettes.
Houlbrooke noted that the WHO even awarded an award to India’s Minister of Health for banning e-cigarettes, a move that denied 100 million smokers access to a potentially life-saving alternative to cigarettes.
Houlbrooke said delegates from the New Zealand Ministry of Health should not boycott the WHO talkfest in November and instead should tell New Zealand’s story with pride. “And if the WHO refuses to budge on its paranoid stance, other countries may see us as a rebellious example to follow,” he said.
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