‘Millions could be saved if vapes are encouraged, WHO should reconsider aggressive move’

Photo: iStock

As many as eight million people a year could be saved if they were encouraged to switch to safer vaping alternatives, says a paper by a leading British anti-tobacco campaigner. He is supported by world’s 100 experts and scientists who have raised concern against WHO’s campaign to get vaping and other forms of e-cigarettes banned.

Clive Bates, former director of anti-smoking campaign group ASH, says that vaping is safer, pointing to evidence that shows e-cigarettes are 95 per cent safer than traditional smoking alternatives, and greatly reduces the risk of cancer and other health problems. 

Bates also argued that smokers need to be persuaded to move on to them as a means of weaning them off the habit.

The letter, drawn by Bates, has a string of recommendations, primarily among which is taking a modernised approach to e-cigarettes. The letter is backed by 100 specialists in nicotine science, policy and practice from around the world who countered WHO’s “misguided and unscientific drive for prohibition, excessive regulation and taxation of vaping products, heated and smokeless tobacco products, and novel oral nicotine products”, reports said.

The WHO has been running an aggressive campaign to get vaping and other forms of e-cigarettes banned all over the world. In fact, the body recently applauded the Indian government for banning e-cigarettes even though tens of millions of people in that country still smoke more dangerous traditional alternatives.

Some of the arguments raised by public health experts include that while current evidence suggests that vaping is currently increasing smoking cessation, the impact could be much larger only when public health community pay serious attention to its potential.

E-cigarettes are drivers of smoking cessation, added the scientists.

Led by the WHO, the ninth meeting of the Conference of the Parties of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (COP9) will be held online from November 8-13.

Vaping is expected to take center stage at the intergovernmental conference which is organised to look at how to bring the number of tobacco-related deaths down.