Independent experts from different countries asked the World Health Organization’s forthcoming tobacco control conference in November to be more open to stakeholders, including consumers, public health experts, and businesses if they truly want to reduce the global death toll from smoking.
It is one of the recommendations in a letter signed by 100 independent experts in tobacco and nicotine science ahead of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control’s Ninth Conference of the Parties, which will be held virtually on Nov. 8 to 13, 2021.
The experts asked the country representatives to the meeting to acknowledge the role of tobacco harm reduction in lessening smoking rates in countries such as Japan, the United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand.
The COP is the governing body of the WHO FCTC composed of delegations from all parties to the treaty. The FCTC is the first treaty on tobacco control negotiated under the auspices of the WHO.
“We are independent experts in tobacco and nicotine science and policy. We write to urge parties to the FCTC to encourage WHO to support and promote the inclusion of tobacco harm reduction into the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control,” they said in a joint letter.
In their recommendations, signatories in the letter asked the country representatives to include THR as a component of the global strategy to combat non-communicable diseases; assess safer nicotine alternatives for smokers, would-be smokers, and adolescents; and require policy proposals to reflect the unintended consequences of strategies like prohibition.
Other recommendations are to create an independent review of the WHO FCTC approach to tobacco control and address malpractice by the tobacco industry without forming barriers to the emergence of reduced-risk products.
“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,” the signatories said in the 11-page letter.
The health specialists issued the letter ahead of COP 9. It was signed by 100 health experts and specialists including doctors and other medical professionals, scientists, professors, researchers, psychologists, psychiatrists, public health consultants and experts from related fields from dozens of countries.
Signatories to the letter clarified that they have no conflicts of interest with respect to the tobacco industry and no issues arising under Article 5.3 of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
They come from different countries around the world, including the UK, Ireland, Canada, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium, France, Italy, Spain, Poland, Greece, Czech Republic, Norway, Sweden, Canary Islands, Morocco, Tunisia, the US, Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, Venezuela, Chile, Ecuador, New Zealand, Australia, India, Singapore, South Korea, Japan, the Philippines, and other nations.