This a first of a series on this latest development at the FCTC.
Though I am not that conversant with the World Health Organization, they seem to do some good in the world, not unlike the FDA. And just like the FDA when they turn their gaze (via the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control) onto tobacco and nicotine, it all goes to hell.
Meeting this November in Uruguay, the FCTC will have on the agenda the new report Control and prevention of smokeless tobacco products and electronic cigarettes. As indicated in the title, the path is already determined, -control and prevention. (The authors are listed as the Convention Secretariat so it is unknown as to whether these are the usual folks repeating themselves or new ones joining in on the scorched earth tobacco policy that maintains the disease levels that they themselves love to invoke as motivating their actions).
This is not unexpected.
If you examine the guiding document of the FCTC, you will already see in place injunctions against any sort of harm reduction.
For instance on page 7:
Towards this end, each Party shall, in accordance with its capabilities:
(b) adopt and implement effective legislative, executive, administrative and/or other measures and cooperate, as appropriate, with other Parties in developing appropriate policies for preventing and reducing tobacco consumption, nicotine addiction and exposure to tobacco smoke.
If you have as your stated purpose the prevention and reduction of nicotine addiction which is characterized in the new paper as “a highly toxic and addictive substance that poses a serious risk to health” you effectively remove the possibility of reducing the health risks to continuing users. The goal of “reducing tobacco consumption” also dismisses the idea of there being safer alternatives.
This becomes even clearer on page 9 where signatories are commanded:
“do not promote a tobacco product by any means that are false, misleading, deceptive or likely to create an erroneous impression about its characteristics, health effects, hazards or emissions, including any term, descriptor, trademark, figurative or any other sign that directly or indirectly creates the false impression that a particular tobacco product is less harmful than other tobacco products.”
How can you create a false impression of something being true when in fact it is true? There is no doubt that some tobacco products are safer than others. Once again, if there is no allowance for safer products there can be no legitimate alternatives for smokers (other than quitting, and as we know, for some that just does not work).
But as much as they do not wish to aid smokers looking for safer alternatives, they do embrace harm reduction when it comes to displaced employment which might result as a result of their actions. From page 20:
“(ii) assisting, as appropriate, tobacco workers in the development of appropriate economically and legally viable alternative livelihoods in an economically viable manner; and (iii) assisting, as appropriate, tobacco growers in shifting agricultural production to alternative crops in an economically viable manner”
The FCTC thus is insensitive to the health concerns of recreational nicotine users but quite concerned about any effects on income. (Not that they are actually following through on this promise … see this news item).
Overall, this document is all top-down, orders from the gods above to the users who are discounted as having no contribution to make to the debate. The paternalistic tone is most obvious in this gem from page 2.
“[we are] Deeply concerned about the high levels of smoking and other forms of tobacco consumption by indigenous peoples,”
It is both criminal and sad that millions of dollars and institutional support go to this powerful institution who clearly are moving toward prohibition at all costs, who sacrifice public health in their quest for a tobacco free world, and do not understand that the use of nicotine is more than just mindless addiction.
-Paul L. Bergen