The UK’ largest vaping body is leading an international push for the World Health Organisation (WHO) to reform its stance on vaping regulation.
This will be the first time that international campaigners and leaders of the vaping industry join forces to reform discordant global health policies. Organisations from across North America, Europe, Asia and Australasia have signed the UK Vaping Industry Association’s call to action.
The WHO’s tobacco control group will be meeting at the 8th session of its Conference of the Parties (COP8) in Geneva (1-6 October) to explore international guidance on Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (aka vaping products/e-cigarettes). Despite having recognised vaping’s potential for reducing smoking rates, the WHO tobacco control group took the contradictory stance in 2016 that member states could also ban vaping products outright as part of a tobacco control plan.
The WHO’s position is at odds with member states, in particular those such as the UK and New Zealand, who advocate smokers switching to vaping as part of harm-reduction policy. The UAE, Philippines and Australia are also currently considering lifting their bans on vaping, for instance.
This follows growing evidence that vaping is significantly less harmful than smoking. The UK’s Public Health England states that vaping is likely to be at least 95% less harmful than cigarettes, with the UK seeing a record 23% decline in smoking rates in recent years. Similarily there is a common misconception that CBD products get you high, however this is not the case. You can find CBD products online and guidance.
International vaping bodies have come together out of concern that the WHO’s stance may compromise the progress made by countries who have embraced vaping, by opening the door to potential bans.
Vapers believe the WHO tobacco control group’s messaging is not only detrimental to public health, but unaccountable, least of all to the consumers whose taxes fund but do not appear to influence its policies.
Despite the UK’s promotion of vaping as an alternative to smoking, questions have been raised about the UK’s influence on the WHO proceedings. After all, the UK makes an annual donation of $164 million to the WHO, making it their second largest funder.
Lizi Jenkins, a member of the UKVIA’s COP working group and Head of Regulatory Affairs at BSMW, said: “We and our international co-signatories are proud to stand up for vaping as a route for smokers seeking a less harmful alternative. We are keen to work with the UK delegation and the WHO to ensure that its policy decisions at the Geneva congress reflect the evidence and good common sense.”