Joanna: Hello and welcome. I'm Joanna Junak, and this is GFN news on GFN TV program. Nancy Loucas, executive coordinator on the Coalition of Asia Pacific Ham Reduction Advocates, will tell us about the white paper titled the Subversion of Public Health Consumer Perspectives, which criticizes the World Health Organization's official health clients about Vaping. Thank you, Nancy, for joining us today. First, can you tell us why you published this paper?
Nancy: Every year prior to a conference of party's FCTC meeting, the consumer organizations in the AsiaPacific region usually come up with something called a Declaration. And the declaration this year is called the Manila Declaration, as it was signed during the Asia Harm Reduction Form in Manila in October. The Declaration itself outlines what we are demanding of our representatives, our FCTC delegates, our ministers of health and those people who are representing us at the Cop meeting. Now, usually when we send this out, we send out a bibliography. We decided that because the bibliography had gotten quite long, it was about ten pages, it might be easier for those who were sending it to to actually review it if we created it as a document and put it in a format that they could go and look and say, okay, well, what about e-cigarettes? Or what about nicotine? Or what about youth? So that was the reason why we came out and created the actual White Paper to send to delegates, ministers of health and any other public health official organization that may be involved in that Cop process.
Joanna: What are the key points of this paper and why is it significant?
Nancy: The key points in the White Paper are to outline to our representatives, the delegates, the WHO, what their responsibilities are in terms of our human rights. Now, one of the things that seems to happen every year at the FCTC Cop meeting is that it is a closed door meeting and civil society such as consumers are excluded from those discussions, sometimes for very nefarious reasons. Also, the deliberations do not take into consideration the full extent of what the Framework Convention Treaty is. And by that I mean by focusing on control of tobacco and supply and not looking at farm reduction. There is, as we all know, a very strong distaste disregard for tobacco harm reduction. And that is key to what is behind the actual treaty itself. So those are the key points in terms of what we want from the WHO to acknowledge what their mandate is. The other part of it is to outline to them the five main issues, which is nicotine is not carcinogenic, nor is it harmful. There is no youth epidemic, flavors are not the problem, things like that. So that is now sitting in a document with an index that people can go and look at it and hit each point with verified scientific references. And in some cases, depending on the country, there will be statistics from their own government archives.
Joanna: And what bothers you in the WHO's approach to Vaping?
Nancy: It's hard to say and articulate it, but the best way to put it is their complete denial of harm reduction. The WH0 will accept harm reduction in every other aspect of human life except when it comes to tobacco harm reduction. They see that tobacco harm reduction is the antithesis of what they consider tobacco control. They focus on the control and they don't focus on the harm reduction. And yet that is what they're there for. That's what that treaty is about and that is what they're mandated to do in Article 1D. So that is the main thing that really bothers me about the approach that the World Health Organization has towards Vaping.
Joanna: What do you expect as an organization now that the White paper is published? Are there any steps which should be taken by the WHO after reading this paper?
Nancy: There are some people, I think there are a lot of people actually that are delegates and also in public health organizations and in ministries of health in the AsiaPacific region that don't know what's going on. They don't understand it. They take what is given to them by whomever to say, listen, this is what's going on and this is what you need to do. These are busy people. I mean, we're talking post COVID. I mean, some of us are still dealing with COVID. We're talking about people where you look at Vaping as a very small part of what they're mandated to do. And in order for them to make informed choices, in order for them to develop regulatory policies that are risk proportionate, they need to have the full cadre of information. They need to have the objective information to make the right decisions. And that is what we're kind of hoping this is what this paper is going to do. It's going to give them information that they previously had not been exposed to for whatever reason and at the very least question what they're being told and perhaps, maybe even look deeper into it and then be able to educate themselves so that they can better represent their people and their countries. When I think about the steps that the who should take, the first one is look at your mandate. Look at what you're supposed to be doing as a public health organization. Look at your articles. Look at the entire treaty, not the cherry picked articles and points that are in there that are easy to do because the treaty itself, even though I believe that at this point in time it's probably outdated, it still is valid. And there are parts of that that have not been activated. There are parts of that have not been discussed or implemented. That's what they need to do. They need to go back to basics. They need to go back to the science. They need to go back to the evidence and they need to go back to their main mandate of protecting public health. That is what they're there to do. That is what they're supposed to do. Anything else above and beyond that is not part of their mandate, especially when it causes untold harm to millions and millions of smokers, especially here in the AsiaPacific region. So that would be what I would want the WHO to do.
Joanna: Thank you, Nancy. That's all for today. Tune in next time here on Gfntv or on our new podcast. You can also find transcriptions of each episode on the Gfntv website. Thanks for watching or listening. See you next time.