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CAPHRA Calls Out Who/FCTC's Disregard For Tobacco Harm Reduction And Transparency


In a striking critique of the World Health Organization (WHO) and its Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), the Coalition of Asia Pacific Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates (CAPHRA) today voices profound concern over the organizations' apparent disregard for the human rights of adults who smoke, and those who use safer nicotine products but also showing disdain for those member states who support “Tobacco Harm Reduction” and have included it in their policies to eliminate combustible tobacco use by accusing them of being influenced by industry.

“This disregard and disrespect not only undermine the potential for life-saving innovations but also raises serious questions about the WHO/FCTC's adherence to the United Nations Charter on Human Rights,” said Nancy Loucas, Executive Coordinator of CAPHRA.

"It's disheartening to see the WHO/FCTC turn a blind eye to the potential of tobacco harm reduction. This stance not only ignores the evidence supporting these strategies but also undermines the global fight against the tobacco epidemic."

Despite evidence suggesting the effectiveness of tobacco harm reduction as a public health strategy, the WHO/FCTC has failed to adequately incorporate these approaches into its policies. Instead, they are aiming to eliminate the concept of “Tobacco Harm Reduction” under the auspices of Article 5.3 as a “tobacco industry strategy” to undermine the FCTC.

“The omission of harm reduction strategies from the WHO/FCTC's policies is a grave oversight. Millions of lives could be saved by embracing safer alternatives to combustible tobacco products," Nancy Loucas added.

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Moreover, the WHO/FCTC's decision-making process lacks the transparency that is essential for public trust and accountability. "The reliance on self-reported data and the absence of a clear mechanism for evaluating the impact of policies are concerning. This non-transparency can mislead member states and regulators, potentially resulting in policy decisions that fail to protect public health effectively," Ms Loucas said.

CAPHRA is particularly alarmed by the WHO/FCTC's breach of the UN Charter on Human Rights, which includes the right to health. "By neglecting harm reduction, the WHO/FCTC is not only failing to uphold the right to health but also potentially exacerbating health disparities by denying access to safer alternatives to smoking," Ms Loucas emphasised.

The WHO/FCTC's approach also impacts all member states globally. Most directly on those members which rely on the organization for guidance in public health policy. "The WHO's urging of member states not to partner with the tobacco industry should not extend to a blanket rejection of harm reduction strategies and engagement with constituents who utilise safer nicotine products. Such an approach is counterproductive to public health goals," Ms Loucas pointed out.

CAPHRA calls on sovereign states and regulators to critically evaluate the WHO/FCTC's current approach to tobacco control. "It is imperative that member states demand greater transparency in the WHO/FCTC's decision-making processes and advocate for the inclusion of harm reduction strategies in tobacco control policies. The health and rights of millions depend on it," Ms Loucas concluded.

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