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CAPHRA: Unveiling The Truth: The Misguided Prohibitionist Agenda

In a bold response to recent publications by the Public Health Collaboration Council (, Nancy Loucas, the Executive Coordinator of the Coalition of Asia Pacific Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates (CAPHRA), has called out what she describes as a "covert prohibitionist agenda" that prioritises rhetoric over science in the debate over oral tobacco and nicotine products.

Loucas, a seasoned public health policy expert, has criticised PHCC for its one-sided portrayal of oral tobacco and nicotine products as a gateway to teen addiction, while ignoring their potential as harm reduction tools for adult who smoker.

"It's time to correct the narrative and focus on evidence-based solutions that respect the autonomy and rights of individuals to make informed choices about their health," said Loucas.

CAPHRA's stance is that PHCC’s approach is steeped in a prohibitionist ideology, which Loucas refers to as "philanthropic colonialism." The disinformation being promoted is part of a global “script” that promotes a narrative that does not focus on science and fact, but instead the imposition of Western-centric health policies without proper consideration for local contexts or scientific evidence.

"Such an approach is not only paternalistic but also detrimental to the development of effective public health strategies," Loucas added.

Loucas has also highlighted concerns about PHCC’s alignment with the WHO, suggesting that this may come at the expense of scientific integrity.

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"Aligning with the WHO should not mean selling out on science. We need policies that are informed by the latest research, not by the desire for international recognition," Loucas emphasised.

CAPHRA is advocating for a re-evaluation of PHCC's stance on oral tobacco and nicotine products, urging for policies that are balanced and rooted in scientific evidence. "Public health policies should protect youth while also providing adults who smoke with access to safer alternatives. It's not an either-or situation; we can and must do both, as New Zealand is an example used in the wider Asia Pacific region for pragmatism and fairness in policy," Loucas stated.

CAPHRA is committed to promoting harm reduction and ensuring that public health policies are guided by science, not ideology. The organisation calls for a transparent and inclusive dialogue that considers all stakeholders, including consumers, in the development of effective strategies to combat smoking-related harm. “It’s sad that both the WHO and PHCC seems not to understand this,” Loucas said.

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