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CAPHRA Sounds The Alarm On WHO And FCTC's Disturbing Lack Of Transparency

In a recent and controversial move, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) have voted to exclude not only media and consumers but other interested parties whose livelihoods depend on decisions made at the Conference of the Parties (COP10) in Panama, sparking outrage among public health advocates and transparency champions.

The Coalition of Asia Pacific Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates (CAPHRA) vehemently criticises this behaviour, underscoring the alarming implications for public discourse and policy transparency.

“This exclusionary approach to COP10 is a glaring testament to the WHO and FCTC's ongoing opacity and refusal to engage in open, evidence-based dialogue on tobacco harm reduction”, says Nancy Loucas, a public health policy expert and passionate advocate for tobacco harm reduction and executive coordinator of CAPHRA.

“Such actions not only undermine the principles of democratic accountability but also silence critical voices that challenge the status quo of tobacco control policies”, said Ms Loucas.

Moreover, the WHO and FCTC have been also granting unfettered access to Bloomberg-funded NGOs, which aggressively lobby against countries pursuing evidence-based tobacco harm reduction policies, including distributing specific disinformation around nicotine and cancer.

“This biased access further skews the narrative, allowing these organizations to bully nations into adopting prohibitionist measures that ignore the growing body of scientific evidence supporting harm reduction strategies”, added Ms Loucas.

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CAPHRA is deeply concerned that these actions will stifle innovation and restrict access to safer nicotine alternatives, ultimately harming public health.

“The exclusion of media and critical voices from COP10 only serves to protect outdated and ineffective tobacco control measures, while ignoring the potential of harm reduction policies to significantly reduce smoking rates and save lives”, said Ms Loucas.

In light of these developments, CAPHRA calls for immediate action to ensure transparency and inclusivity in the tobacco control debate. The organization urges governments and public health bodies to demand that the WHO and FCTC adopt an evidence-based approach to tobacco harm reduction, one that is open to scrutiny and informed by the latest scientific research.

CAPHRA's message is clear: the time for secrecy and exclusion in tobacco control is over. “It is imperative that the WHO and FCTC embrace transparency, engage with all stakeholders, and prioritize policies that genuinely protect public health”, Ms Lucas said.

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