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Vapers body condemns exclusion of consumers at WHO conference

February 6, 2024

Members of World Vapers’ Alliance hold the missing puzzle piece on the mural that says “Flavours help smokers quit” (Photo: WVA)

As the tenth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP10) to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control convened on Monday, the World Vapers’ Alliance (WVA) has criticised the exclusion of consumers from the decision-making process and the potential implementation of measures that could severely undermine harm reduction efforts globally.

“At COP10, decisions are being made without the input of those most affected – the consumers. This exclusion is unacceptable. Harm reduction saves lives, and it’s imperative that this is recognised and integrated into global tobacco control policies,” Michael Landl, director of the WVA, said.

Delegates from more than 180 countries have gathered in Panama City for the biennial meeting, which will focus on tobacco advertising and sponsorship — as well as new tobacco products, such as electronic cigarettes.

Landl noted that the proposed measures at COP10 could drastically restrict access to vaping and other safer nicotine products. These include equating safer nicotine products with traditional cigarettes and prohibiting flavours.

“The potential restrictions being considered at COP10 are not just counterproductive; they’re a threat to public health. Restricting access to safer nicotine products will only drive people back to more harmful smoking habits and potentially to the black market,” Landl added.

Globally, smoking is a leading cause of death, with over 8 million people dying each year due to tobacco-related illnesses. In light of this, the WVA argues that policies should be guided by science and evidence. Over 100 global organisations support the benefits of vaping as a less harmful alternative to smoking. Cochrane’s comprehensive review, along with many studies, confirms vaping’s efficacy and reduced harm compared to smoking.

Ignoring this evidence at COP10 could lead to dire consequences, the consumer body said, adding that misinformation and stringent regulations could deter smokers from making healthier choices, potentially leading to a public health disaster.

The WVA urged the FCTC member states to consider a risk-based regulation approach, reflecting the reduced harm of vaping and similar products compared to smoking.

“We cannot afford to let misinformation and misplaced priorities dictate global health policies. It’s time for the FCTC to listen to the voices of consumers and the scientific community. We must protect the right to a healthier life and ensure harm reduction remains a viable choice for everyone,” Landl said.