Titled ‘The Subversion of Public Health: Consumer Perspectives’, a white paper presented at the recent Fifth Asia Harm Reduction Forum (AHRF 2022) has now been publicly released.
Compiled by several leading international Tobacco Harm Reduction (THR) experts, it was presented at the 28 October forum in the Philippines by Nancy Loucas, Executive Coordinator of CAPHRA (Coalition of Asia Pacific Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates).
It follows the authors reviewing information from the World Health Organization (WHO) on their approach and guidance for safer nicotine products (SNP), specifically on e-cigarettes.
The paper then aims to provide information and evidence that has not been included in any of the guidance publicly provided by the WHO to signatories and delegates of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) on safer nicotine products (SNP).
In her presentation, Ms Loucas says, “public health is ‘the science and art of promoting health, preventing disease and prolonging life through the organised efforts of society.’ But asks, ‘what happens when citizens and policymakers are not given the full information to make informed choices about their health?’”
Consumer advocates strongly believe that the global tobacco control community has failed miserably in their rejection of THR. Ms Loucas says advocates are not about the money, glory or attention, but about saving lives, their own and those of the people they care about.
Her presentation asks: ‘How is it that harm reduction is embraced and celebrated in every other aspect of public health, except when it comes to tobacco?’
“The disinformation offered by WHO FCTC and its affiliates to signatory countries as ‘guidance’ is dangerous. The FCTC has failed, and continues to fail, the eight million adults who die from unsafe tobacco products annually,” says Ms Loucas.
At AHRF 2022, key global vaping advocates signed ‘The Manila Declaration’. It calls for an independent review of the WHO’s scientific and policy analysis, challenges its decision-making, and demands the WHO leadership launches a comprehensive rethink.
“We need to see some sign that the WHO is embracing innovation, not squandering the opportunity to make a real difference to the global burden of cancer, heart disease and crippling lung conditions,” says Ms Loucas.
Advocates believe the FCTC is no longer fit for purpose. Instead, it has been subverted to benefit a few, at the expense of the whole.
“Let’s get back to basics and let’s see some inclusiveness. Let’s see an acknowledgement of scientific innovation, consumer knowledge and experience, to help people, not disenfranchisement or discrimination,” says Nancy Loucas.