The WHO releases new report on the ‘tobacco epidemic’ and how to maintain it

The World Health Organization released the 9th edition of its Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic on the last day of July. The 8th edition, published in 2021, did not mention tobacco until page 9, instead beginning with “Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) are addictive and not without harm” in large bold font and declaring that the devices should be strictly regulated. 

To open with an intention to obstruct products which could alleviate the “tobacco epidemic” was an odd approach for the 8th report, but the new update carries on in much the same vein. 

It clearly shows that the avalanche of misinformation and disinformation towards nicotine alternatives to smoking will be perpetuated in the lead up to #COP10. The latest report also confirms that the campaign against harm reduction is indeed being sponsored and paid for to maintain relevance of outdated concepts and to vilify tobacco harm reduction in the court of public opinion.

The acknowledgements page is very revealing. Profuse thanks are offered to Bath University, The Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, and Vital Strategies, all of which enjoy lavish funding provided by Michael Bloomberg. Very fitting considering the WHO declares that “Production of this WHO document has been supported by a grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies” which, in tobacco control circles, is not considered a conflict of interest. 

Tobacco control world – much like Barbie world – operates in the realm of fantasy and imagination rather than real life. 

It is also telling to note which organizations are not cited in the report. No mention, for example, of Public Health England or the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities in the United Kingdom which are positive about vaping. Nor is there mention of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in the United States which has produced encouraging evidence of the potential for harm reduction. 

We are sure they have been very active, but perhaps the WHO lost their work down the back of the sofa.

The United States is the biggest funder of the WHO and the UK in the top five, yet their most prominent academic institutions are ignored in this new report. Thumbing its nose at governments providing a weighty proportion of the WHO budget could be considered as somewhat rude. 

There is also no mention of the Society for Research on Nicotine & Tobacco, or the article by 15 of its former presidents which examined the beneficial potential of vaping for public health. The Cochrane library is cited six times on various aspects of tobacco control activity, but the institution’s research finding there is “high certainty evidence that nicotine e-cigarettes are more effective than traditional nicotine-replacement therapy (NRT) in helping people quit smoking” is not one of them. 

Cynical people (unlike those at Copwatch, of course) might assume that there is some cherry-picking going on for inclusion of evidence for the report, while Bloomberg’s anti-nicotine minions are given pay-to-play access to write it. 

This latest document will be one spoon fed to delegations at COP10, which suggests the WHO is not intending to provide delegates with an unbiased and accurate picture of tobacco harm reduction. 

It is one of many to have been published in recent weeks for Parties to COP10. Watch this space for further analysis of published COP10 documents at Copwatch very soon.

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