The Vapour Product Association of South Africa and it’s CEO and Chairperson, Zodwa Velleman, joined other International vaping bodies and campaigners led by the UK Vaping Industry Associations (UKVIA) to issue a call to action to the WHO to remedy this contradiction, asking that vaping products be treated separately to tobacco products. Consumer groups and academics have also made separate appeals.
Yet it appears that the WHO’s tobacco control group is sticking its fingers in its ears. Not content with expelling journalists and industry from the proceedings, it has declared that the spirit of COP7 will remain “entrenched in emerging policies” and refused to acknowledge the need to treat vaping distinctly to tobacco. The group has even gone as far as to claim that “there is no independent research to confirm” that vaping is less harmful than smoking.
In the UK alone, Public Health England, Action on Smoking & Health, the Royal College of Physicians and the Adam Smith Institute must all wonder why the WHO dismisses the integrity of their research.
The disappointing outcome of COP8 will have an impact that reaches far beyond the vaping sector. In the UK alone, where smoking rates have fallen in conjunction with the growth of the vaping market, smoking-related diseases are still costing local authorities an average of £760 million a year, and the NHS £2 billion a year, according to conservative estimates.
Discouraging policy-makers from embracing harm reduction could not only be costing lives – up to one million a year, according to the Adam Smith Institute – but is preventing us from alleviating a substantial public burden.