GENEVA: Various consumer groups have said the World Health Organization (WHO) seems to be being used by big pharmaceutical companies, charity foundations and state-controlled tobacco companies to perpetuate cigarette trade by driving less harmful alternatives to the black market, leaving more than a billion smokers exposed to serious health risks from smoking
Samrat Chowdhery of the Association of Vapers India said that while the WHO was predicting that the number of smokers globally would remain at more than a billion over the next five years, the health body was not doing anything to change its ineffective prohibitionist policy.
“This projection should have made the WHO realize that the current approaches are not working,” Chowdhery, who is also the president of the International Network of Nicotine Consumer Organizations, said during the Voices4Vape webinar on Sept. 26, 2020.
The Coalition of Asia Pacific Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates (Caphra) and other consumer advocacy groups organized Voices4Vape where experts in tobacco control, public health policy, government policy and independent vaping industry asked the WHO to embrace tobacco harm reduction as a strategy in addressing the smoking epidemic that kills 20,000 smokers a day.
Clive Bates, a global tobacco harm reduction (THR) advocate and former director of the UK’s Action on Smoking and Health, said the WHO’s prohibitionist policy was particularly directed at innovative nicotine products.
“The WHO and the parties to Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) and many of the nongovernmental organizations involved have taken on a prohibitionist approach
We are constantly seeing WHO pushing prohibition —prohibition not of dangerous cigarettes that cause all these health problems, but prohibition of less harmful alternatives such as vaping, smoke-free tobacco products, heated tobacco products, and anything new or novel,” Bates said.
Bates particularly identified US billionaire and former presidential aspirant Michael Bloomberg as the one “putting millions and millions of dollars into the system, funding WHO and networks of non-governmental organizations to prohibit vaping products.”
Bloomberg Philanthropies, the charitable foundation of American billionaire Michael Bloomberg, is funding the campaign of anti-vaping groups like Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance, The Global Centre for Good Governance in Tobacco Control and International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease.