THE Coalition of Asia Pacific Tobacco Harm Reduction Awareness (Caphra) decried the report of the World Health Organization on tobacco and vaping, calling it "deeply disturbing."

The group was referring to the "Tobacco Product Regulation Report," which recommends a "panoramic view of all nicotine and tobacco product use."

"WHO is pushing for smoking and nicotine vaping to be regulated as one, when the two couldn't be further apart. One has an up to 50-percent chance of killing its users while the other has a less than a 10-percent chance of causing any harm," Caphra Executive Coordinator Nancy Loucas said in a statement.

The group said WHO's negative and obstructive approach toward safer nicotine vaping products continues to impact smoking cessation rates, costing lives globally.

"Good public health policy reduces the threats and harms to the public. It does not create them, or introduce confusion, yet that's exactly what WHO seems determined to do," Loucas said.

WHO acknowledged that "ENDs (electronic nicotine delivery systems) that deliver nicotine effectively might help some smokers to quit combustible smoking with positive public health effects."

However, it added that "most of these individuals, however, continue to use ENDs with uncertain individual health consequences and thus an uncertain public health impact."

"WHO continues to ignore numerous independent and peer-reviewed scientific studies supporting vaping as a much safer alternative to deadly cigarettes. Public Health England, for example, stands firmly behind its 2018 review, which concluded that e-cigarettes are around 95-percent safer than combustible cigarettes," Loucas lamented.

She said the study group in WHO's report recommends bans on all aspects of vaping that are the cornerstone of its effectiveness - recommendations not based on scientific evidence but on theories - some of which have already been clearly disproven.

Loucas said several public health experts also voiced concerned with WHO's approach, including former director of the American Cancer Society, Cliff Douglas, and former head of ASH UK, Clive Bates. They said WHO, and those public health experts and policymakers who follow their advice, have moved away from evidence-based guidance and policy when it comes to tobacco harm reduction.

Consumer groups in the Asia-Pacific region have launched a petition urging WHO to respect consumer rights ahead of the next biennial meeting of the WHO Framework Convention of Tobacco Control in November.