The Coalition of Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates in the Asia-Pacific Region (CAPHRA) has described the latest vape Q&A section on the World Health Organization (WHO) international website as an absolute scandal.
Nancy Loucas, CAPHRA's executive coordinator, said the only right thing for WHO to do is to clarify what the acronym ENDS means: Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems.
A key question raised by WHO is: 'Are e-cigarettes more dangerous than traditional cigarettes?' CAPHRA said WHO should clearly answer the question with 'less'. Instead, it places e-cigarettes and smoking on the same footing, declaring that both tobacco products and ENDS pose health risks. The safest way is to not use either.
"If you're a smoker desperate to quit this quiz, you're likely to keep smoking. WHO refuses to distinguish between vaping and smoking. At best it's a complete departure from answering very simple and straightforward questions. What's more, it keeps lying," Ms Lucas said.
"The WHO's approach is a disgrace. Instead of giving a direct answer, the WHO refuses to acknowledge that international science has repeatedly confirmed that vaping is far less harmful than smoking," she said.
CAPHRA believes that the WHO recommendation on equality between smoking and vaping is highly unethical and could have serious health consequences if it leads people to give up ENDS smoking or not switch to vaping.
"No respectable scientist thinks that ENDS is even close to the risk of smoking. In fact, Public Health England strongly supports the finding that vaping is 95% less harmful than smoking combustible cigarettes," she said.
CAPHRA concluded that by starting a 'question-and-answer' page with such an incendiary question, which WHO subsequently refused to answer explicitly, it aimed to introduce anchoring bias into its public health guidelines.
“WHO has done its best to establish the notion that the question that everyone is thinking about is whether END is as dangerous as cigarettes. By then recommending risk equalization, readers get a best-case scenario where e-cigarettes may be as dangerous as smoking cigarettes. Just as bad. It's outrageous that the WHO continues to defy science and completely ignore the experience of consumers around the world," she said.
For anyone with questions after reading the WHO's questions and answers on vaping, CAPHRA is now compiling a comprehensive reference source from doctors, researchers and government funding agencies. All of this would categorically refute the claims made by WHO in its guidance.
CAPHRA said that while WHO continues to delve into its unreasonable anti-vaping stance, international FCTC (Framework Convention on Tobacco Control) representatives have an opportunity next year to ensure that public health guidance on vaping finally reflects reality: it is saving smokers Life-effective and harm-reducing smoking cessation tools.
Panama will host the tenth WHO Conference of the Parties to the Convention (COP10) in 2023, where delegates will discuss and make recommendations on safer nicotine products.
“About 70 countries have ignored WHO’s anti-vaping campaign and regulation of vaping. Countries participating in next year’s COP10 need to fully understand that the lives of millions of smokers will depend on their discussions and decisions. WHO should follow suit Evidence, not an end to unfounded ongoing hysteria," said Nancy Lucas.