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UKVIA and health experts: World Health Organisation’s anti vaping rhetoric is nonsensical and dangerous

Publish: 2021-05-26 11:46:09 Update: 2022-07-13 18:38:00 View: 2609

The UK Vaping Industry Association strongly condemns the World Health Organisation’s latest attack on vaping – an attack that “flies in the face of scientific evidence, common sense and harm reduction.”

On Tuesday, the WHO released a report in which its director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus described vape devices as “harmful”, adding they should be “better regulated.”

“The WHO has a long-standing anti-vaping stance and this latest attack on a sector that is literally saving millions of lives worldwide flies in the face of scientific evidence, common sense and harm reduction,” said John Dunne, Director General of the UKVIA.

“The fundamental difference between the UK and the WHO is that the UK has taken a science and evidence-led approach towards vaping.  And the evidence clearly shows the enormous role vaping products play in helping smokers to quit and stay quit. The WHO, on the other hand, has chosen to do the prohibition route, effectively calling for a ‘ban on everything’ except combustible tobacco products – does that sound like an organisation trying to reduce smoking?”

He added: “We know we are on the right side of the argument, prioritising as we do, health protection and harm reduction.  The WHO, however, seems hell-bent on preventing smokers’ access to the one quit method proven to not only help smokers quit cigarettes, but to do so long term.”

The UKVIA is not alone in slamming the WHO’s latest anti vaping report. Professor John Britton, Professor of Epidemiology at University of Nottingham and Dr Derek Yach, president of the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World, are both highly critical of the document.

Professor Britton said in a statement: “This report demonstrates that, sadly, the WHO still doesn’t understand the fundamental difference between addiction to tobacco smoking, which kills millions of people every year, and addiction to nicotine, which doesn’t.

“The WHO is also evidently still content with the hypocrisy of adopting a position which recommends the use of medicinal nicotine products to treat addiction to smoking, but advocates prohibition of consumer nicotine products which do the same thing, but better.”

Dr Yach said the WHO’s comments were “fundamentally flawed”. He added: “The exceptional growth of next generation devices offers the WHO a real opportunity to tackle combustible consumption once and for all.

“Over 100 million ex-smokers use reduced-risk products and the WHO should be taking advantage of massive investment in the sector by encouraging governments to provide an incentivised regulatory framework to enable greater expansion.”

David Jones MP, who sits on the All Party Parliamentary Group for Smoking and Health, has added his voice to the debate, saying the WHO’s opposition to all smoking alternatives, not just vaping, was “bizarre”.

“Our advice remains that people who smoke are better to switch completely to vaping,” he said. “That opinion, however, is not shared by the WHO, which has long pursued an almost pathological campaign against e-cigarettes.”

He continued: “The UK Government’s health promotion body, Public Health England (PHE), says that: ‘Vaping is not risk free but is far less harmful than smoking.

“Using reduced-risk products such as vapes or heat-not-burn devices is demonstrably safer than smoking cigarettes. There are no serious debates to be had here. PHE is very clear about it: such products are around 95 percent safer than combustible tobacco.”

He added: “The WHO is simply wrong. The UK should reject its calls and continue to develop its own science-based guidelines, helping people quit the habit that claims so many lives.”

John Dunne said: “I find it highly suspicious that an organisation allegedly opposed to smoking can do so much to condemn a product that can actually solve the problem.

“When you review the science vaping is clearly the best harm reduced alternative to combustible tobacco available and at least three times more effective than traditional NRT for smoking cessation. And to do so whilst very clearly not calling for ban on cigarettes – makes you wonder what their agenda really is?” 

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