More than seventy public health experts and anti-tobacco campaigners have penned a joint letter to the World Health Organization (WHO), urging leaders to take a more measured view of the benefits of vaping.
The open letter was sent to WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus ahead of this week’s conference of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in Geneva.
The 72 signatories, who have no links to the tobacco industry, urged the WHO to “embrace tobacco harm reduction” and adopt a more positive approach to e-cigarettes and other technologies that can help fight smoking-related diseases.
“In the field of tobacco control and public health, the world has changed significantly since the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control was signed in 2003. It is impossible to ignore or dismiss the rise of Alternative Nicotine Delivery Systems (ANDS),” they write.
They continue: “These technologies offer the prospect of significant and rapid public health gains through ‘tobacco harm reduction’. Users who cannot or choose not to quit using nicotine have the option to switch from the highest risk products (primarily cigarettes) to products that are, beyond reasonable doubt, much lower risk than smoking products.”
Published by WHO, the FCTC is an international treaty that frames tobacco control in 181 party countries. The United States signed the treaty in 2004, but it has not been ratified by the Senate.
The FCTC lays out guidelines on things like cigarette tax, advertising and packaging. The organisation encourages participating countries to adopt policies to comply with the framework.
Parties to the FCTC meet every two years to discuss how to advance the treaty. This week (1-6 October) marks the eighth such conference where delegates will discuss, among other things, the regulation of harm-reduction products like e-cigarettes.
WHO has taken a cautious stance when it comes to e-cigarettes. It has called for tight regulation of the products and, in many cases, treats them as if they are just as harmful as combustible cigarettes.
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