Letter By 100 Medical Experts Shows How Misguided Tobacco Control Policies Are Failing To Prevent Deaths

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A LETTER by one hundred of the world’s leading tobacco and nicotine experts calling on governments to demand that the World Health Organization (WHO) reforms its strategy to prevent tobacco-related deaths has been welcomed by local non-profit, Campaign for Safer Alternatives (CASA).

The letter, which is addressed to all countries attending the WHO’s Conference of the Parties on Tobacco (COP9) on the 8th November says that the WHO’S misguided and unscientific approach to tobacco harm-reduction is failing to prevent the 8 million deaths caused by tobacco every year.

Signed by experts from 30 countries, the letter says, “regrettably, WHO has been dismissive of the potential to transform the tobacco market from high-risk to low-risk products. WHO is rejecting a public health strategy that could avoid millions of smoking-related deaths”?

Kenya’s tobacco control policies are closely aligned to the WHO’s dated strategy, and CASA is calling on the Government to urgently heed the recommendations from the letter and to adopt tobacco harm-reduction policies that will help Kenyan smokers to quit.

Chairman of CASA, Joseph Magero said, “I started smoking when I was 16 and it was only through using nicotine pouches that I was eventually able to quit. If Kenya is going to become a leader in reducing tobacco-related harm then we need to make sure that smokers have access to the best tools.

“Scientific studies like the Cochrane Review shows that smokers who use vaping or nicotine pouches to quit are far more likely to be successful than smokers who use nicotine replacement therapies or those who go it alone. For Kenyan smokers, access to these tools could be the difference between life and death.”

The letter references the comprehensive body of scientific research in favour of tobacco harm-reduction policies and the use of alternative nicotine sources in the fight against smoking.

The letter also points to the harmful unintended consequences of WHO’s opposition to safer nicotine products and the impact that prohibitionist policies have on smokers who are struggling to quit.

“In recent months, the US, France and New Zealand have all taken steps to ensure adult smokers can access alternative nicotine products. It’s time for Kenya to take the lead in Africa in reducing smoking rates by embracing harm-reduction policies.”

The letter includes six recommendations to countries attending the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) ninth Conference of the Parties (COP9):

  1. Make tobacco harm reduction part of the strategy to meet Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  2. 2.      Insist the WHO makes a robust assessment of reduced-risk products.
  3. Consider the unintended consequences of proposals.
  4. Properly apply Article 5.3 of the FCTC, but don’t create a counterproductive barrier to reduced-risk products.
  5. Make the FCTC negotiations more open to stakeholders.
  6. Complete an independent review of WHO and the FCTC with regards to SDGs. 

The letter from 100 global experts can be accessed here: https://clivebates.com/one-hundred-specialists-call-for-who-to-change-stance-on-tobacco-harm-reduction/

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