Here is a brief list of what we think needs to change. What do you think? Let us know in the comments. Visit the links at the end to explore these issues in more detail. See our Glossary for short explanations of the acronyms.
The WHO approach to tobacco control is not working
There are still 1.1 billion smokers worldwide, the same number as in 2000.
FCTC methods are failing and, so long as harm reduction is denied to smokers, FCTC’s methods will continue to fail.
sCOPe is a round-the-clock international broadcasting event taking place throughout COP9. The five-day livestream, from 8 to 12 November, will feature world-leading THR experts and consumer advocates for safer nicotine products. sCOPe will be simulcast on YouTube and Facebook. Despite being shut out of COP9, vapers have vowed they will not be silenced. Organisers are calling on vapers and consumers of other safer nicotine products to promote and mobilise around sCOPe.
Global broadcast counters secretive WHO conference
A significant round-the-clock global broadcasting event, featuring world-leading Tobacco Harm Reduction (THR) experts and consumer advocates for safer nicotine products, has been announced.
100 specialists in nicotine science, policy and practice have come together to call on the 182 parties (countries) to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control to take a more positive stance on tobacco harm reduction. The letter pushes back against WHO’s misguided and unscientific drive for prohibition or excessive regulation and taxation of vaping products, heated and smokeless tobacco products, and novel oral nicotine products, such as pouches.
From 8-13 November 2021, the ninth meeting of the Conference of the Parties of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (COP-9) will be held online. The meeting details are here.
The letter makes seven main points relevant to FCTC parties and then six recommendations. The letter text must speak for itself.
Several signatories have made statements on the letter, or on WHO’s approach to tobacco harm reduction and innovation. These are set out here.
The letter text, references and signature list are included below in English:
For an explanation of acronyms and terms please see our glossary here.
The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) is the first international treaty negotiated under the auspices of WHO. It was adopted by the World Health Assembly on 21 May 2003 and entered into force on 27 February 2005. It has since become one of the most rapidly and widely embraced treaties in United Nations history.
The objective of the FCTC is “to protect present and future generations from the devastating health, social, environmental and economic consequences of tobacco consumption and exposure to tobacco smoke”.
The treaty describes “tobacco control” as “a range of supply, demand and harm reduction strategies that aim to improve the health of a population by eliminating or reducing their consumption of tobacco products and exposure to tobacco smoke”.
The FCTC framework includes a range of tobacco control measures to reduce tobacco demand (Articles 6-14) and tobacco supply (Articles 15-17), concerning the production, sale, distribution, advertisement and taxation of tobacco products. Although harm reduction is recognised in the treaty as a tobacco control approach, thus far the COP has not provided any clarity or guidance on specific harm reduction strategies.
Out of the 193 Member States of the WHO that participated in the FCTC negotiation, 182 countries have either ratified or acceded to the convention, becoming “parties” to the WHO FCTC. The parties make up the Conference of the Parties (COP), which is the governing body of the WHO FCTC.
Note that some countries have signed the convention but not ratified (e.g. USA and Switzerland). This indicates that they participated in the negotiation of the FCTC and agree to its contents but have not taken the national legal step of constitutional ratification that is unique to every country.
Currently, there are 15 “non-party” states (countries that are Members of the UN and may have participated in its negotiation but did not sign the FCTC during its year-long open period, or who have only signed but not ratified the FCTC).
Six have signed but not ratified (Argentina, Cuba, Haiti, Morocco, Switzerland, the United States). These countries have the option to ratify the FCTC.
Nine have not signed (Andorra, Dominican Republic, Eritrea, Indonesia, Liechtenstein, Malawi, Monaco, Somalia). These countries cannot ratify the FCTC, but instead only have the option to accede to the FCTC.
Both signing and ratifying, or acceding, have the same legal effect and both routes result in the country becoming a Party.
NNA writes that “The World Health Organisation (WHO) is a threat to vapers, not just in other parts of the world, but in the UK too. Consumers have a role to play in protecting reduced risk products that have benefitted us so much and could do for many more smokers in the future.”
Another UK based campaign, #BACKVAPINGSAVELIVES has tools to help you with contacting the Department of Health and MPs to let them know how vaping has benefitted you. Put your short message into the website form and a postcard will be sent to your MP.
A curated list of articles which focus on FCTC COP.
1. The Counterfactual, Clive Bates: Letters sent by experts to WHO and articles about WHO and tobacco harm reduction, from 2014 to now. A must read for anyone wanting a clear headed look at the issues.
“Against a backdrop of the WHO suggesting that vaping should be banned, the Parliamentarians sought to assess how our progressive and successful approach to tobacco harm reduction and reduced risk products at home, fits in with the WHO’s prohibitionist stance at a time when the UK is one of the WHO’s largest state donors“
3. October 2021 Briefing paper from the Global State of Tobacco Harm Reduction
“FCA accreditation is only open to those with no connections to the tobacco industry, however tangential or historical. Also excluded are advocacy NGOs representing people directly affected by tobacco control regimes. This includes smokers and users of safer nicotine products. The involvement of the tobacco industry in the production of some but by no means all safer nicotine products means that advocacy organisations in favour of tobacco harm reduction, including numerous vaping or snus consumer advocacy organisations, are excluded de facto.”
This website is written and published by consumers of safer nicotine products. We are dismayed at the lack of transparency around the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) and the Conference Of the Parties (COP) and at WHO’s efforts to deny smokers access to lifesaving “novel” products such as vapes, heated tobacco products and snus. The aim of this website is to demystify the workings of FCTC and COP.