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The WHO’s silence on vaping contradicts its stated support for harm reduction in the FCTC


Fontem Ventures, owner of leading e-vapour brand blu, has called on the World Health Organisation (WHO) to recognise the growing evidence that vaping can make a significant contribution to tobacco harm reduction, ahead of the upcoming World No Tobacco Day 2018 on 31st May.


“The current generation of smokers are ill-served by the WHO’s silence on vaping. It’s time for change, and World No Tobacco Day would be the perfect opportunity for the WHO to talk about vaping and provide smokers across the world with the best information around how to make the switch from traditional combustible tobacco,” said Andrew Gregson, Director of Corporate & Legal Affairs at Fontem Ventures. 


Article 1(d) of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) defines tobacco control as “a range of supply, demand and harm reduction strategies that aim to improve the health of a population by eliminating or reducing their consumption of tobacco products and exposure to tobacco smoke.”


E-vapour products like e-cigarettes contain no tobacco¹, and peer reviewed scientific evidence² suggests that switching from smoking to e-vapour products will substantially reduce exposure to harmful toxicants³ found in tobacco cigarette smoke. Some health bodies have even concluded that vaping could be 95% less harmful than smoking tobacco cigarettes4


However, so far the WHO has not recognised the harm reduction potential of vaping, missing a significant opportunity to accelerate the move away from tobacco products. This stands in stark contrast to state and non-state actors in WHO member countries like the UK and France⁵, who already acknowledge the role vaping can play in harm reduction.


“Data showing the decline of smoking rates in countries where vaping is recognised as an alternative for smokers is incontrovertible6, and a clear, evidence-based position on vaping would strengthen public health campaigns targeting smokers. The time for bodies like the WHO to suggest that smokers attempting to quit traditional tobacco switch to something better is now,” said Gregson.





²Article 14 The WHO FCTC states that “each Party shall develop and disseminate appropriate, comprehensive and integrated guidelines based on scientific evidence and best practices, taking into account national circumstances and priorities, and shall take effective measures to promote cessation of tobacco use and adequate treatment for tobacco dependence”. The body of scientific evidence supporting the harm reduction potential of vaping is now significant and a useful summary can be found here:




⁴British Medical Association:


⁵France, Institut National de Cancer:



Author: kimbarnard

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