“The current generation of smokers are ill-served by the WHO’s silence on vaping. It’s time for change, and World No Tobacco Day would be the perfect opportunity for the WHO to talk about vaping and give smokers across the world the best information on how to make the switch from combustible tobacco,” said Andrew Gregson, Director of Corporate & Legal Affairs at Fontem Ventures.
Article 1(d) of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) defines tobacco control as “a range of supply, demand and harm reduction strategies that aim to improve the health of a population by eliminating or reducing their consumption of tobacco products and exposure to tobacco smoke.”
E-vapour products like e-cigarettes contain no tobacco¹, and peer reviewed scientific evidence² suggests that switching from smoking to e-vapour products will substantially reduce exposure to harmful toxicants³ found in tobacco cigarette smoke. Some health bodies have even concluded that vaping could be 95% less harmful than smoking tobacco cigarettes4.
However, thus far the WHO has not recognised the harm reduction potential of vaping, missing a significant opportunity to accelerate the move away from tobacco products. This stands in stark contrast to state and non-state actors in WHO member countries like the UK and France5, who already acknowledge the role vaping can play in harm reduction.
“Data showing the decline of smoking rates in countries where vaping is recognised as an alternative for smokers is incontrovertible6, and a clear, evidence-based position on vaping would strengthen public health campaigns targeting smokers. The time for candour is now,” said Andrew Gregson.
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²Article 14 The WHO FCTC states that “each Party shall develop and disseminate appropriate, comprehensive and integrated guidelines based on scientific evidence and best practices, taking into account national circumstances and priorities, and shall take effective measures to promote cessation of tobacco use and adequate treatment for tobacco dependence” The body of scientific evidence supporting the harm reduction potential of vaping is now significant and a useful summary can be found here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/457102/Ecigarettes_an_evidence_update_A_report_commissioned_by_Public_Health_England_FINAL.pdf
⁴British Medical Association: https://www.bma.org.uk/collective-voice/policy-and-research/public-and-population-health/tobacco/e-cigarettes
⁵France – Institut National de Cancer – http://www.e-cancer.fr/Comprendre-prevenir-depister/Reduire-les-risques-de-cancer/Tabac/La-cigarette-electronique
See Fontem Ventures infographic on the UK experience