WHO Plays Bad COP

The World Health Organization’s Framework Convention for Tobacco Control is set to hold its Conference of Parties later this year, in November, in Panama. This article looks at the threat posed to vaping in the United Kingdom and what people who use vapes to quit smoking can do about it.

regulationsThe long words

Firstly, let’s trim things down a bit with some acronyms:

  • World Health Organization – WHO
  • Framework Convention for Tobacco Control – FCTC
  • Conference of Parties – COP

What is the WHO?

To use their words: “WHO is the United Nations agency that connects nations, partners and people to promote health, keep the world safe and serve the vulnerable – so everyone, everywhere can attain the highest level of health.”

What is the FCTC?

There are 192 states who are members of the WHO. 168 nations have signed up to the FCTC and 182 countries ratifies it. They are called ‘parties’ to the convention.

This means these parties are legally bound to:

  • Reduce tobacco use through placing taxes and increasing the prices of tobacco products
  • Ban all tobacco marketing through ads, promotions and sponsorships
  • Enforce smoke free spaces in workplaces and shared public spaces
  • Ensure health warnings are placed on all tobacco products, and
  • Clamp down on the illegal importation of all tobacco products

What is the COP?

Literally a conference that the parties attend where the nations look at how well the FCTC is being fulfilled and what future steps need to be taken.

How do countries implement the FCTC?

Countries get their guidance from the ‘MPOWER policy package’ – a report containing six evidence-based components that was funded by billionaire, ex-smoker, and staunch anti-tobacco activist Michael Bloomberg.

What has the WHO FCTC COP got to do with vaping?

Well, so far we’ve been using the word ‘tobacco’ which everyone understands as things like cigarettes, cigars, cigarillos, chewing and pipe tobacco.

This is not the case when the WHO use the word as, since Michael Bloomberg has worked with it and donated a lot of money, the organisation now classes vapes as tobacco products (despite their being no tobacco in eliquid).

What is the threat to vaping from the WHO FCTC COP?

The New Nicotine Alliance (NNA), an independent charity that advocates for nicotine consumers and receives no funding from any industry sources, says the WHO is calling for the following at this year’s COP:

  • A ban on all open system vaping products where you change the coil and/or the eliquid
  • A ban on all eliquid flavours except tobacco
  • A ban on nicotine salt eliquid products
  • Regulating products so that they are all exactly the same and restrict delivery of nicotine
  • Demanding that countries around the world treat vape products the same as combustible tobacco
  • Tax vapes at the same rate as cigarettes
  • Ban vaping where smoking is prohibited
  • Place large graphic health warnings on vape products
  • Implement plain packaging for vape products
  • Ban all vape advertising, promotion and sponsorship

Can I do anything to stop this?

The NNA says: “The UK delegation to the conference, as with all other national delegations, is instructed by the country’s government which, in turn, is answerable to you, the electorate. To ensure that these threats are rejected in November, you must start writing now to express your concerns to your elected representatives and those involved in the COP10 process in the UK.”

The NNA suggests there are two things you can do.

Tell them why the products are so important and why WHO threats must be resisted. Ask them to pass on your concerns to the government and insist the UK stands up for vaping and other non-combustible nicotine alternatives to smoking.”

Also, write to the UK’s FCTC focal point person at this email: addictionspolicy@dhsc.gov.uk

The next COP, COP10, takes place on November 20 to 25 in Panama City. We hope the UK takes the opportunity to share the success it has had with vaping.

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