The World Health Organization (WHO) may be in need of a checkup after it again refused to listen to medical experts who say vaping is far safer than smoking and can help to dramatically save the estimated seven million lives lost around the world every year.
Guest post by William Furney
The latest refusal came after a group of WHO experts met in Geneva, Switzerland, in October and reiterated their stance that they would not support vaping and would continue to advise member nations to ban electronic cigarettes.
The global health body says there is no reliable evidence to suggest that vaping is better than smoking and can save lives, despite a raft of top-level medical and scientific research in recent years that says just that.
Meanwhile, many countries, especially in developing parts of the world, have outlawed vaping, and some places, like Thailand, impose hefty fines as well as jail sentences for even being in possession of vaping gear.
Tens of millions of their populations continue to smoke, and die from their habit, while large tobacco companies are permitted to advertise cigarettes — in some cases targeting advertisements directly at children.
Vaping Sector Anger
The vaping industry has had enough of the WHO’s fence-sitting in the face of a large amount of evidence that e-cigarettes can help get people off deadly tobacco and save lives.
In a letter to the Financial Times, an industry group comprising associations from around the world, as well as retailers, said enough was enough and it was time to accept the facts that have emerged about vaping.
“Calls for reform to global vaping policy have fallen on deaf ears,” they wrote. “Following the Eighth Session of the Conference of Parties (COP8) in Geneva this month, the World Health Organization’s tobacco control group has once again refused to acknowledge the need to treat vaping distinctly from smoking.”
And they have “issued a call to action to the WHO to remedy this contradiction. Consumer groups and academics have also made separate appeals.”
During the summer, the head of the WHO’s Tobacco Control Programme, Vinayak Prasad, ruled out supporting e-cigarettes as an effective smoking-cessation method, because, he said, there was a lack of evidence to support such a claim.
“We do not recommend the use of vaping products — or any other smoking product — but the use of licensed and recommended forms of nicotine to help adult smokers quit smoking,” Prasad said. “The existing body of scientific evidence regarding the effectiveness of [vaping] as a smoking cessation aid is scant and of low certainty.”
What the Experts Say about Vaping
Tell that to the Royal College of Physicians, Public Health England, Cancer Research UK and others. These prestigious and world-leading medical institutions have carried out their own studies into vaping in recent years to find out what the risks are — if any — to public health.
All have concluded that compared to smoking, vaping presents hardly any harm to people’s health and that smokers should immediately switch to get healthier.
Public Health England, for example, said in an advisory issued earlier this year that “vaping poses only a small fraction of the risks of smoking and switching completely from smoking to vaping conveys substantial health benefits” and that “e-cigarettes could be contributing to at least 20,000 successful new quits per year and possibly many more.”
Smokers looking for vapes for sale now have more choice and convenience — at better prices — than ever before, given the rise of online vape stores.
And they can decide what vape liquid strengths — low, medium, high and even none — they want.
As John Newton of Public Health England said, “Our new review reinforces the finding that vaping is a fraction of the risk of smoking, at least 95% less harmful, and of negligible risk to bystanders. Yet over half of smokers either falsely believe that vaping is as harmful as smoking or just don’t know.”
He added: “It would be tragic if thousands of smokers who could quit with the help of an e-cigarette are being put off due to false fears about their safety.”