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Parliamentarians urge UK government to stand by vape industry

April 7, 2021

Credit: World Health Organisation

New report recommends that Government back vape as harm-reduction measure

The vape industry has welcomed the release of a report calling on Great Britain to continue its progressive approach towards vaping and harm-reduction products despite international moves to further restrict vaping or discourage smokers from switching.

In January, the World Health Organization (WHO) released recommendations that claimed vaping was unsafe and should be banned – a call that caused outcry among both the vape industry and health professionals who see vape as a crucial tool in the fight to cut the number of smokers in the UK.

In an introduction to a report responding to WHO’s claims and recommendations, the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Vaping said: “Against a backdrop of the WHO suggesting that vaping should be banned, the Parliamentarians sought to assess how our progressive and successful approach to tobacco harm reduction and reduced risk products at home, fits in with the WHO’s prohibitionist stance at a time when the UK is one of the WHO’s largest state donors.”

In response, the APPG has called on the UK government to “make the most of Brexit by challenging the World Health Organization’s (WHO) opposition to vaping at the upcoming Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) Conference of Parties (COP)”.

The delayed COP9 meeting to discuss the FCTC will go ahead in November 2021.

The report continues: “At a time when the UK Government has set an ambitious target to make England smoke-free by 2030, and Public Health England has asserted vaping is at least 95 percent less harmful than smoking, the Members of the House of Commons and the House of Lords wanted to ensure the WHO doesn’t turn its back on the lives of the one billion people around the world who still smoke, including the seven million in the UK.”

Among the recommendations made by the report is a call to restricting WHO from making any decision to ban vaping and other reduced risk alternatives to smoking and also sending experts and consumers to sit alongside UK officials at the multilateral event. 

Reacting to the report, John Dunne, director general of the UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA), said: “It’s about time that the vaping industry stood up against the WHO and the APPG on Vaping has done a great job of doing so, challenging the organisation to change its approach to harm reduction and calling upon Government to consider a reduction in funding if they continue in the same vein by taking a prohibitionist stance. It was also good to see that the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control treaty was called into question by parliamentarians, who want it to better reflect UK’s national interest.”