The impact of COP9 on vapers

  • The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) is a World Health Organisation (WHO) treaty that has a Secretariat which holds a biennial Conference of the Parties (COP) to discuss tobacco control issues.

  • Despite the treaty’s commitment to tobacco harm reduction, the WHO and FCTC secretariat have never embraced e-cigarettes but have instead called for excessive regulation from the outset. Although research has shown that vaping is more than 95 per cent safer than smoking and that e-cigarettes do not ‘renormalise’ or encourage tobacco use, the WHO’s opposition has become entrenched. It actively encourages full prohibition or heavy regulation to deter vaping.

  • The WHO influences policy worldwide by putting out negative statements about vaping which misrepresent the scientific evidence. These statements are then cited by policymakers. The European Commission, for example, has quoted anti-vaping claims from the WHO while preparing the next Tobacco Products Directive. EU Directives, in turn, provide a blueprint for regulation in other countries.

  • The FCTC Secretariat and the COP meetings are not fit for purpose. In their relentless opposition to vaping and other reduced risk nicotine products, they have become a threat to global health. With no sign of movement from the WHO, the next COP9 meeting to be held in November 2021 represents a tangible risk to vapers and to public health.

  • Governments which recognise vaping’s potential to save lives should make their case strongly at COP9. If the WHO continues to spread misinformation about e-cigarettes, governments should withdraw funding from the FCTC Secretariat.

This paper was published by The Property Rights’ Alliance, and is also available on their website here.

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Head of Lifestyle Economics, IEA

Christopher Snowdon is the Head of Lifestyle Economics at the IEA. He is the author of The Art of Suppression, The Spirit Level Delusion and Velvet Glove; Iron Fist. His work focuses on pleasure, prohibition and dodgy statistics. He has authored a number of papers, including "Sock Puppets", "Euro Puppets", "The Proof of the Pudding", "The Crack Cocaine of Gambling" and "Free Market Solutions in Health".