Vapers Urge WHO To Give Vaping Fair Chance
The World Health Organization has stated that vaping is safer than smoking and that smokers switching to vaping create a significant achievement for the public health. It is curious, then, that WHO is extremely close to banning e-cigarettes and vaping entirely. In fact, they are so serious about this that they decided they didn’t want to hear anything about vaping from people who know, like actual vapers, and ejected them from their “public” meeting on November 9 to discuss the issue.
The reason that WHO is considering banning vaping has a familiar ring to it: the children. Worries about children and teens taking up vaping seem to be the primary reason that WHO, and others, don’t want to admit that vaping is safe. Meanwhile, adult smokers who have successfully quit smoking cigarettes by switching to vaping are facing the possibility of bans on vaping products, which could lead them back to tobacco cigarettes.
Vaping consumers held a conference after being ejected from the WHO meeting in New Delhi on November 9. At the conference, the consumers adopted what they call the Delhi Declaration, which calls on WHO to allow smokers to have access to vaping products that are known to be safer than tobacco cigarettes. Tom Pinlac, the president of the Vapers Philippines, said that while it is important to be concerned about the health and safety of young people, a ban on vaping shows “disdain” for the health of adults. He says that concerns about children and vaping should be addressed by regulations, not complete bans that would prevent adults from getting the products.
The WHO conference came about because of a report by an unnamed author in Geneva, Switzerland, where vaping is the most popular method of quitting smoking. In addition to concerns about youth, the report cites concerns about lack of studies on the long-term use of e-cigarettes and vaping. Pinlac countered these concerns by stating, “If we had waited for clinical studies and scientific certainty, we wouldn’t have seat belts, motorcycle helmets, cleaner fuel, or healthier foods.”
The government of the United Kingdom was called on to endorse vaping after a report by UK health officials deemed vaping to be 95% safer than smoking tobacco. Vaping has helped many smokers in Western Europe and the United States to quit smoking, but in Asia where many countries have banned vaping, smoking rates are rising. Two-thirds of the smokers in the world are in Asia. WHO supports the Asian bans on vaping, according to Nilesh Jain of the Indian Vapers Association. He says that without e-cigarettes or vaporizers, smokers have only two options, “quit or die.”
There are those who believe that concerns about health and the welfare of children aren’t the real reasons for the bans on vaping, but that the real reason is money. Governments can and do make a great deal of money on cigarette taxes, while pharmaceutical companies make money on the sale of nicotine gums and patches. Governments and large corporations are not making money on the sale of e-cigarettes and vaping products. Time will tell if health organizations and governments will put health ahead of profit by being guided the evidence of the safety of vaping, or if they will continue to push for restrictions and bans against logic and the good of public health.
Meanwhile, vapers and consumer groups find themselves in the position of having to get the truth out to the general public. General public attitudes towards vaping and e-cigarettes are somewhat negative, at least in the U.S., where bans on vaping are supported and sometimes passed by vote, such as a recent ban in California. Consumer groups and health experts need to continue to expose the truth that vaping is safer than smoking when lawmakers are unwilling to do this.