Associations of electronic cigarette users, also known as “vapers” from the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia, joined together to launch a united voice to be heard by policy makers.
Peter Paul Dator from The Vapers Philippines, Dimas Jeremia from Indonesian Vapers Associations, Asa Saligupta from Ends Cigarette Smoke Thailand and Azrul Hafriz Bin Zainudin from Malaysian Organization of Vape Entity made the announcement during a panel discussion on “Alternative Tobacco Products Regulations:The Role of the Consumers” which was hosted by the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs on the same day.
They launched #VapersBeHeard to provide Asian vapers with an opportunity to be heard by global, regional and national policy-makers as well as the general public regarding their views on better alternative smoke-free products.
“Vapers are generally active in the digital world through social media, blogs and other platforms. We want to take advantage of this by launching a digital campaign through which all vapers can participate, and this will hopefully allow us to be part of the discussions with policy-makers. For years, regulations on e-cigarettes and other alternative products were issued but failed to take into consideration the interest of vapers, smokers and the concerned public.This needs to change now,” said Dator.
He said the campaign #VapersBeHeard aimed to express to policy-makers that it is the basic human right of vapers and smokers to receive accurate information as well as have access to better alternative products, rather than for them to continue smoking cigarettes, which is the most harmful way of consuming tobacco.
“Vapers are also people―mothers, fathers, sons, daughters–and we deserve a chance to lead a better life through these alternative products,” they said.
Asian vapers also demanded to be part of the process in regulating better alternative products.
“Our first goal for this campaign is to be a part of the discussion in the upcoming World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Conference of Parties 8th meeting in Geneva,” said Asa Saligupta from ECST.
“We have created a digital call-for-action that will enable every vaper in Asia to voice their concern by visiting our microsite www.vapersbeheard.com. We have also initiated a petition in change.org to urge the WHO to listen to the demands of Asian Vapers that alternative products are better for smokers than cigarettes, and they need to acknowledge it. They can’t keep ignoring us as what has happened during previous COP meetings,” said Saligupta.
Electronic Nicotine Delivery System, also known as e-cigarettes, and other alternative products has been on the agenda of WHOFCTCCOP meetings.
The groups said WHO appeared to have a very conservative position on alternative products recommending countries to ban or strictly regulate them similarly to cigarettes,despite the growing scientific evidence concluding that they are better for smokers.