A group of UK members of parliament have suggested that the government should think twice about its contribution to the World Health Organization (WHO) if there is no change in its antagonistic approach towards vaping products.
A report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Vaping said there needed to be a “fundamental shift of mindset” towards harm reduction in the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).
“If they are opposed to adhering to this and continue to pursue an agenda-driven approach to ban reduced harm products, then the UK should consider dramatically scaling back our funding,” reads the APPG’s report, produced in advance of the ninth Conference of the Parties (COP9) to the FCTC.
The paper also suggests that if the WHO refuses to accept the role of harm reduction “the UK delegation should make it clear that the UK will assert their national sovereignty – given the outcomes will not be binding – and continue to pursue our current domestic strategy”.
‘Smoke-free’ shouldn’t mean ‘nicotine-free’
The APPG said Britain should remain committed to a goal of becoming smoke-free and warned that this should not be conflated with a “nicotine-free” or “tobacco-free” objective, “which would be counter-productive from a public health perspective”.
The MPs called on the government to send a “balanced delegation” to COP9, which will take place in the Netherlands in November, as well as experts with first-hand experience who advocate “risk proportionate and evidence-based regulation”.
The report encourages the UK delegation to raise objections with the FCTC Secretariat “to any inclusion of vaping products in the report on novel and emerging products as beyond the scope of its mandate”.
The APPG also urged the establishment of relations with other parties who share the same approach to achieve an international coalition of like minds.
The report is the outcome of an inquiry by the APPG into COP9 to examine how its proposals may affect domestic legislation, particularly in relation to smoking cessation and the 2030 smoke-free target.
What This Means: The APPG report is now sitting on health secretary Matt Hancock’s desk and in the hands of the UK’s COP9 delegation.
It is expected that e-cigarettes and other tobacco alternatives will be among the main topics of discussion at COP9 – as was the case at COP8 in Geneva in 2018.
– Antonia di Lorenzo ECigIntelligence contributing writer