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Tobacco control promised bans and restrictions on e-cigarettes and other novel nicotine products for COP10, the Conference of the Parties to the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. But instead, frustrated by a handful of countries calling for a harm reduction approach to tobacco use, the global health regulator punted.

Lindsey Stroud
Dir. Consumer Center, Taxpayers Protection Alliance

Martin Cullip
Intl. Fellow, Taxpayers Protection Alliance


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Brent Stafford: Hi, I'm Brent Stafford and welcome to another edition of RegWatch on COP 10, the conference of the parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, was expected to issue a final agreement on implementing new bans and restrictions on safer nicotine products, such as nicotine vapes and heated tobacco products. Instead, delegates from the over 140 countries in attendance punted the decision to COP11 in two years' time, while blaming Big Tobacco for promoting a narrative that frames them as safer alternatives to traditional cigarettes, supporting tobacco harm reduction. joining us today to talk through cop 10 and tobacco control spin on the outcome is Lindsey Stroud and Martin Cullip from the Taxpayers Protection Alliance out of Washington DC. Saw a lot of you, Martin, during our coverage, and both of you were a part of the team from the Taxpayers Protection Alliance that organized and delivered the Good Cop, Bad Cop counter-conference to COP10 in Panama. TPA hosted nearly two dozen tobacco harm reduction experts representing 14 different countries at the counter-conference, providing running commentary and reaction to COP10. Now, as I mentioned, RegWatch streamed live each day during COP week, and you can find those episodes on our website, YouTube and X. Martin and David Williams hosted our coverage. So, Lindsay, let's start with you. How did the event go and what did you think of COP 10?

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Lindsey Stroud: Well, I think a good COP went really well for being the first type of conference. that I've ever helped organize and put together and schedule and making sure the experts were where they needed to be while we were live streaming everything. And it seems that we got under the nerve of our adversaries and the space while they never explicitly sat there and said that it was good cop. They did call us a counter, you know, parallel cop event, which is Great, that's what we were designing it to actually be. Didn't see much of COP 10. I know that we were planning on, like we had on Monday, we had the opening. We were trying to do the opening session and live stream it for people who are live streaming with us. And the WHO couldn't even get their stuff together with a $5 million budget. It's kind of amazing. We were ready to go to live stream it ourselves. So I was really hoping to get some of our reacting to what those countries were going to say Unfortunately, that didn't happen, but we were able to see some of what was happening and being able to respond in real time, I think was really awesome. And I love that there was a delay at everything. Well, I love and I hate it. It seems that their conference, really, they focused on environment and kids when you're looking at how many students were there. I know in the closing address, Adriana Blanco, I can't pronounce her last name, you know, brought up the kids and called them guardians of our future and actually quoted them by saying that, you know, it's not worthwhile for, you know, we don't even care about the smokers or the people who smoke. They sat there and said, smokers skip, so don't be mad at me. That, you know, one kid gets addicted. And that was kind of the theme I was getting out of our good cop was that the WHO is not listening to the people, the 1.3 billion adults who are who are smoking continue to smoke. Here is the science, the consumers and the policy behind these alternatives that, you know, the WHO shuns out.

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Brent Stafford: And Martin, what was your take on COP 10 after closed?

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Martin Cullip: Well, it was the normal chaos. The first day always seems to have chaos. They had elected senators from Brazil turning up who got refused entry. There were some bloggers who wanted to, you know, interview some delegates and did, but they got thrown out by security. And there was journalists who were, there were people that Lindsay said, you know, they were called, I think they were global youth voices, which are indirectly funded by Michael Bloomberg turned up. So there were astroturf youth voices and there were journalists there who went to say, you know, what's happening with you guys? Oh, we're not talking to you. We only talk to accredited journalists. So they've been well briefed, haven't they? You know, they're not there as a, they weren't there as a movement, a grassroots movement. They've been placed there by someone and they've been well instructed not to talk to certain journalists, which was quite funny. But overall, I think they're still paranoid. The bulletins that came out of the GATC, which is the Global Alliance for Tobacco Control, I think the first journal, 90% of it, apart from the welcome to COP at the top and saying welcome to delegates, welcome to Panama, the rest of it all had articles talking about tobacco industry interference. They're just obsessed with trying to smear anyone who might disagree with them. When you start off on that sort of footing, then you're going to get into all sorts of pickles when it comes to countries who don't agree with you, which seem to be quite a few of them at this conference, as I'm sure we'll discuss.

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Lindsey Stroud: One of the things that I noticed, I mean, Martin's been following this a lot more than I have, is how the WHO actually is shaming. Not only are they shutting out the adults who smoke, but they're shaming the countries that are supporting the products that have actually helped these adults quit smoking. And it just makes you wonder, what is the purpose of the FCTC anymore? I mean, when... I was reading some history on it yesterday when working on an op-ed. I mean, the genesis of this started in 1993. I mean, and that was when we were understanding the harms related to combustible cigarettes. And even in 2003, when it finally, you know, the people signed it, 2005, when it became enacted, like, again, we didn't have this massive array, you know, explosion of alternatives to cigarettes at the commercial level, you had nicotine replacement therapies, you had snus that was being used, especially like in limited countries, but the e-cigarette, the modern e-cigarette really wasn't out around then. And it's like, it's warped from their initial, what they were supposed to be doing, which was reducing the burden related to smoking. And thank God that they didn't, the one I, Martin was that in articles nine and 10, when trying to redefine the term of smoke.

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Brent Stafford: So, Lindsay, you just mentioned Article 9 and 10. Now, we've talked about this to some length over the course of the last year or two. These were proposals supported by the FCTC Secretariat, which include banning vaping flavors, banning open system, which is the refillable products, banning disposable vapes, banning nicotine salt e-liquid, and redefining the term smoke to include smoke-free vapor, as well as some more stiffer regulations and taxing on all nicotine products. This is what was up on the table. Martin, you know, Endlands, you've been on our show many times in the last two years talking about these articles and the danger that they pose to vaping. But what happened? Did they make a decision on these?

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Martin Cullip: Well, there were two aspects. You had Article 9 and 10, which is to do with contents of products and emissions, you know, testing, that kind of thing, and holding tobacco industry to account for the products they've got. But there was also a discussion on novel emerging products, and there were a whole load of reports came out which mentioned all these threats. But, you know, they were insisting that Articles 9 and 10 were not to do with novel emerging products. But one of the reports that was attached to that agenda item was FCTC COP 10 slash 7, which did speak about flavours and how they created youth uptake. And they also mentioned pouches and other things. So, you know, there was a threat. And what Article 9 and 10, the discussion was about, was about whether to have an expert group, which is fully controlled by the WHO with cherry-picked scientists and what have you, or whether to reactivate a working group, which was suspended in 2018. And the working group is open to any party to the convention to volunteer to join and have the discussion. Obviously, the WHO wanted an expert group and the parties couldn't decide or couldn't achieve consensus on whether to allow the WHO to have that. There was a lot of objections to that. But we knew that was going to come anyway because they surveyed the parties in 2020 and 2021 and the majority said they wanted a working group. So the novel emerging products item was just to note reports and the reports had all those threats in them. But the one for articles 9 and 10, they wanted a decision to go ahead with an expert group and they couldn't come to a consensus. They debated for four or five days and in the end they decided we're going to have to talk about this at COP 11. And that's complicated in its own right by the fact that there was a proposal by Sunkits and Nevis which kind of threw a cat amongst the pigeons in that discussion for articles 9 and 10. It's all really quite interesting and political. And I suppose we'll get to that. Or do you want to talk about it now?

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Brent Stafford: Yeah, well, let's talk about it now. And I do have these statements. I thought maybe first to play that clip from the opening session that discussed the need for a whole of government and whole of society change.

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Video: The overarching theme for the FCTC COP10, together promoting healthier lives, is an extremely important narrative that is not only a priority for WHO General Programme of Work, for the next couple of years, it also serves as a good basis for mainstreaming WHO FCTC into various health and development paradigms. While significant progress has been made in recent years, there is no room for complacency as this program is uneven. The moment a government believes it has won the battle against tobacco, the industry seizes the opportunity to manipulate health policies and promote their deadly products. E-cigarettes are the exception to these positive trends. Here we are increasingly seeing data showing a rapid increase in uptake by children and young people. For this reason, WHO issued a Call to Action in December 2023, which urges strong, decisive action to prevent the uptake of e-cigarettes based on the growing body of evidence of its use by children and adolescents. We continue to need a health promotion approach to tobacco control. Countering tobacco industry tactics necessitates the successful promotion of health and well-being through complementary and essential approaches such as health in all policies, whole-of-government approaches and whole-of-society approaches.

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Martin Cullip: You know, the Article 9 and 10, they're discussing it. The WHO was trying to, like I said, with the report FCTC COP 10-7, was trying to sort of squeeze some aspects of novel emerging products into there. And you know, they say, oh, it wasn't anything to do with those products. But contents and emissions, they were trying to roll it into the same thing. And then St Kitts and Nevis submitted a proposal on that agenda item that Article 1D on harm reduction should be considered. And that kind of really just muddied the waters all over the place. But that's the discussion that's ongoing and they couldn't finish it. So they're going to have to have that discussion again in COP 11. And I think we should congratulate St Kitts and Nevis for putting that sort of proposal in.

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Brent Stafford: Yeah, let's take a listen to that statement.

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Video: Thank you, Madam President. St Kitts and Nevis is very pleased to be part of the global tobacco control community, aiming at protecting present and future generations from the devastating health, social, environmental, and economic consequences of tobacco consumption. And so we are very pleased to be part of this debate today. At our own domestic situation, we have seen a reduction in smoking prevalence to below 9%. But despite this, globally, we have seen the proliferation of a number of products. One of the concerns that we have really is that when dealing with novel and emerging tobacco and nicotine products, that are used commonly by the tobacco industry. There is the misuse of the so-called harm production or reduced risk. And this is claiming to attract both smokers and non-smokers to its new products by saying that these novel products expose their users to less harmful constituents, which eventually lead to the renormalization of smoking. And so although the convention that guides us itself describes tobacco control as a range of supply, demand, and harm reduction strategies. The public health community must define these terms in a more detailed manner. It is important to note, however, that the proven concept of harm reduction plays a significant role in other areas of public health, such as sexually transmitted infections, HIV AIDS, drug and alcohol addiction, and in fact, air pollution. And I want to associate myself personally with this because of my earlier experience as being the spokesman for the Caribbean region on matters of health inclusive of HIV AIDS pandemic. The tobacco control community should not reject the idea of harm reduction per se, but we should learn from the best practices of proven public health oriented measures while preventing the tobacco industry from hijacking that important term. Having above in mind, we would like to present a proposal, a proposal to establish in line of the Article 5.3 of the Convention, Please confine yourself to the agenda. Right. And we are proposing a working group which I intend to spend more time. It is not the time for a proposal. Please give us an update on your global progress. Right. And the update is that I shall deliver a proposal which will assist us in moving forward. Not now, St. Kitts. Not now, not now at all. Not now. Thank you. Not now. Thank you, Madam Chair. Thank you, St. Kitts.

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Brent Stafford: So, Martin, what's the relevance of that? Because, I mean, he clearly said tobacco harm reduction is a tool of the tobacco industry. So why was that such a big win felt by those who support tobacco harm reduction?

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Martin Cullip: Well, you see that the chair was trying to cut him off. Now, technically speaking, he's presenting this in the wrong place. He's meant to be talking about his country's efforts towards tobacco control. But he was expressing that he was going to be bringing in a proposal to talk about harm reduction and that the WHO should not dismiss harm reduction. What I found interesting about that clip is looking at some of the faces around him. There were some that seemed quite shocked. There were some were actually smiling and laughing. The Canada delegation were kind of laughing because Canada is fairly good on harm reduction. So, I think he kind of lobbed a grenade in there and he wasn't the only one. There were a few different countries which did mention harm reduction. So, the WHO is trying to dismiss harm reduction completely and say it's just a tool of the tobacco industry. But there were some countries who were saying, well, you have to look at this. You know, we're looking at this. We're regulating. Philippines was another one. Guatemala, I think, said some things. Armenia, El Salvador, New Zealand. There were plenty of them. But he's kind of saying what many countries did not want to say. And he went ahead with it. They did introduce a proposal and they put it into the agenda item for Articles 9 and 10. And they were discussing it all week. So they never came to a consensus. So, yeah, congratulations to them. And it's nice to see some common sense being injected into proceedings.

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Brent Stafford: Lindsay, you spoke with a lot of the experts that came down to good cop, bad cop. What was your impression of how they were taking in the conference?

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Lindsey Stroud: They thoroughly enjoyed it. A lot of them, I think even our bonafide experts who've been doing a circle around all of the conferences, I think we're really impressed with being 2.2 kilometers away from where the conference was. i mean we definitely were shut out from the conference one of our experts i won't give out their name it was one of our consumer experts i took an uber out to to the convention center uh and was shut away i mean like you know like borrow like even getting to it um with all the security on there but um It would have been nice to see more delegates, especially we had over 14 countries represented, not 140 like the WHO, but we had 14 countries represented at our event. It would have been nice to see some of the delegates come out from their respective countries to actually hear from the consumers, the science, the policy related to these alternatives to cigarettes that have helped reduce the burden of combustible tobacco.

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Brent Stafford: Martin, there was a couple of things that happened during the conference that I want to get your comment on. Obviously, this wasn't a transparent conference, even though COPT, I like to use that term to describe it. There was an issue with the Panamanian government and some problems with some tobacco harm reduction materials being handed out. What happened there?

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Martin Cullip: There was a report in the local news that four hotels been raided because there were pamphlets and t-shirts and they described them as advertising harmful products. But what it turned out to be was it was just consumer advocates who were in those hotels who were there because they genuinely wanted to maybe speak to some delegates. They had some materials with them which had you know, information on harm reduction. I've got one example here, which I don't know if you can see it, which is just, I mean, if you look on the back here, you see it says greetings, makes me sure I get it in front of the camera, you know, greetings delegations to the COP10 and the FCTC, and it's signed at the bottom, best regards nicotine users. Now, I These were the sort of things they were hoping to engage with delegates and make their case. But the Panamanian government went around and tried to shut them down. It's really quite scary, you know, that you're in this country, you're trying to make your views known, and the Panamanian government is trying to say that what you're doing is illegal. I mean, this is a freedom of speech issue, if nothing else. But it was just polite... polite pamphlets to try and get some attention and to try and, you know, get into part of the debate. And the T-shirts obviously were T-shirts worn by those. I mean, there was a couple of delegates at our conference who had clothes which advertised their consumer advocacy group, but they changed them to anonymise them so they didn't say the word vapes or anything else because they knew these stringent rules were in place. But it says something about a country where where you're not even allowed to discuss this because COP10 is in town. And WHO surely should be ashamed of that. I mean, they should be. If I was in charge of a conference where people were being brutalized like this and hotels raided to try and stop them even trying to engage with delegates, then I'd be ashamed, but they obviously don't seem to be.

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Brent Stafford: lindsay did that have a chilling effect at all on the cop uh good cop bad cop conference considering the fact that you're not even supposed to be vaping in panama not really i mean we were pretty

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Lindsey Stroud: We were open, and we also had people from Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids Global that showed up and asked what was going on. I think the one gentleman, the VP dude, I'm not going to say his name now, was upset that I didn't initially recognize him. I recognized him once the name came through, but even then I didn't recognize what groupie it was. I just seen him in the delegates list. And they were more than welcome to come join us. I mean, if anything, it just made me want to make sure that our event was much more transparent and that this is what you're seeing. And if you want to come in, hey, we know you have an anti-vaping message, CTFK, but you're more than welcome to come join us. And I would have actually rearranged the schedule to put them on a debate, put them on a panel with some people. I haven't been a referee. No, no, no. You do not. We do not hit each other, people. But I don't think, I mean... I don't think that I knew we were going to get we already knew that Good Cop was on the radar. I mean, they had done a couple even prior to the November one that we had been on this corporate accountability Bloomberg funded group and then a couple of other ones that they were talking about Good Cop. So we expected some press. I just didn't expect the amount of press. i guess just trying to paint us with a whole broad uh stroke and i don't think they were really well prepared to actually like see with what we put together with all of our experts i mean i think we really had a really good variety of consumer science and policy people that you can't sit here and say oh oh it's all foundation oh oh it's all enco or whatever that they try to always smear us with so i really appreciate that one

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Brent Stafford: Another thing that, uh, caught the eye of people on, at least in the Twitter sphere, the X sphere, uh, was this, it was a post by, by, I believe somebody from the Spanish delegation would said, uh, mocked up a vape device called cancer flavor.

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Martin Cullip: Yeah. What you can see from that is the brand is new vapor. So they're trying to say that, you know, these things are only only there to try and get people addicted. rather than what we know most users are, former smokers. That 100% there said 100% carcinogenic, which is completely untrue. You know, there's now a community note on that tweet that he's put up saying that he's talking nonsense. And what's so horrifying about that is that was from a guy in the Spanish government. Apparently, I think he's the Secretary of State for Health. in the Spanish government. And vapes have nothing to do with cancer. Cancer Research UK in the UK says nicotine does not cause cancer. I don't think the American Cancer Society have ever said that vapes cause cancer. They don't like them, but I don't think they've ever said they cause cancer. If the WHO or the FCTC don't pull someone aside for that, take them to a back room and say, how dare you do that? You can't do this at our conference. You can't lie at our conference. But I don't expect they'll do anything because they're quite happy to have misinformation. They're excluding science that they don't like. They're promoting science that they do like. however shonky it is and however, you know, some of the reports have cited people like Stanton Glantz, for example. They've cherry-picked evidence all along. But just purely on a professional level, if you've got someone producing material like that, if I was running that conference, no matter how much I wanted to get rid of vaping products and whatever, I would still pull them aside and say, this is embarrassing. Really embarrassing. Why are you doing that? That gives them ammunition to fire at us. And what on earth are you doing producing something that's so blatantly untrue? But I don't think the FCTC or the WHO would have taken them aside because I'm sure we would have seen an apology by now. But no, there hasn't been one.

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Brent Stafford: So the Global Alliance for Tobacco Control, who are they and what kind of impact did they have here during Cop Week and beyond? I'll open it up to either one of you.

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Lindsey Stroud: Well, okay, you know how Cop Watch is? They're like Copwatch, but they're the Copwatch of the FCTC. And they're definitely funded by Bloomberg. I mean, they're pretty much, they're like a PR firm extension of Cop and get very limited stuff going on. But they, I mean, they're under the, they're so aligned with all the other groups, all the stuff, all the other groups kind of republish all their stuff. Martin, you know more about them than I do, but that's just for me from an outsider perspective on who the hell they were.

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Martin Cullip: Yeah, they're NGOs. They're a group of NGOs. They used to be called the Framework Convention Alliance. They changed their name, I think, last year to the Global Alliance of Tobacco Control. And they produce these bulletins. They always have done every day of the conference. And the bulletins report on what's happening. They have articles in there written by their people. And they have these awards. They have the Orchid Award for the countries they think are doing well and the Dirty Astray Award for countries they think are not doing well. And I always call them the fan club. They're like the fan club. But I always wonder why countries will put up with this treatment to be criticised by these people. Because conference of the parties, the parties are the national governments. They're the boss here. They're the ones who make the decisions. The secretary, FCT secretary are just administrators. And the NGOs are just people in the crowd, basically their audience. And yet they're allowed to criticise governments and the WHO just lets them get on with it.

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Lindsey Stroud: And what they do during proceedings too. They gave Guatemala a dirty ashtray award this year for delaying proceedings or something.

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Martin Cullip: Yeah, that's right. They give these dirty ashtray awards. And it's done to humiliate and to try and almost bully, if you like, delegates to do the right thing. Plus, they have access to them. They can go and sit next to them and talk to them. Whereas consumers can't. We can't make our voice heard. But they have... And just to give you an idea about who some of these people are, there were 225 anti-harm reduction NGO personnel on the participation list for COP10. So just Bloomberg-funded organisation, 14 from the University of Bath. It's a university in the UK. They had 14 delegates there. You had 40 for the campaign for... Yeah, CTF, they had 40, corporate accountability, 11, 22 from vital strategies. And they're all going round. I mean, the Global Alliance for Tobacco Control had 50 there. And they'd just be going around talking to people. And then at the end of the day, they produce their bulletin and they criticise governments who haven't been doing what they would like them to do. This is like the tail wagging the dog. The government should be in charge of this. They're the ones who pay the fees. They are the ones who make the decisions at COP10. And it constantly amuses me why governments put up with being humiliated and abused by these NGOs. I mean, they're basically, like I said, they're the audience. They're the fan club. But the governments are the boss. They're the ones who make the decisions. They're the ones who are in charge. Why are they putting up with this treatment from these people? I don't know why, but that's the way it's always been.

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Brent Stafford: Well, they're more than just lobbyists, you know, for a cause that are allowed in. They're actually enforcers.

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Martin Cullip: Yeah, they talk about tobacco industry interference. This is interference in a treaty, an international treaty from people who are just NGOs, non-governmental organizations. They're not governments. They shouldn't be having a say like this. They shouldn't be trying to influence governments. They should be keeping the hell out of it and keeping the reviews to themselves.

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Brent Stafford: One of the things that I wanted to bring up was the final, I guess, spin from COP10. This is their release that came out on February 10th. COP10 adopted historic decisions to protect the environment from the harms of tobacco and to address cross-border tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship, and the depiction of tobacco in the entertainment media. You know, they failed to do anything on e-cigarettes and vaping, which was obviously the big promise. It's the big newsworthy promise. And they didn't get anywhere on it. And I'm shocked a bit that the whole tobacco environment historic decision that they came up with on the environment happened. you know, didn't have anything about e-cigarettes in it. Considering that the environmental message around the waste of batteries and disposables is like one of the primary reasons why the UK went south on the issue.

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Lindsey Stroud: And they're talking about cigarette butts. But it also had to do a lot with the youth contingent. And they issued a press release, what, like two days ago, Martin, about where it was the closing and doing the closing session press release. And I mean, they just, again, brought up about how it was so great that youth were here for the first time ever. And youth are really big on the environment. And they're also, I mean, I love the children. Never going to have any of my own. But their presence there, I think, really kind of decided on what would be victories if you look at it. I mean, it was historic and a victory for them to go after the environmental stuff. But again, if you're going after cigarette butts, you probably should have done that in 2007, you know, at your first COP.

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Martin Cullip: Yeah, there's history behind this thing on the environment. Brazil, I think, were the ones who proposed it. It wasn't actually on the agenda for COP10. They introduced it. and it was accepted to be on the agenda. But when they came to consensus on there were amendments, so we don't quite know what's in it. And how they've described it is pretty vague. It says the decision urges parties to take account of the environmental impacts from the cultivation, manufacture, consumption and waste disposal of tobacco products and to strengthen the implementation of this article. So It doesn't really say a lot. I think there was an intention to push through a ban on filters, but we don't know because it's a bit amended if that's survived. And yeah, it was quite encouraging for us that they didn't concentrate on plastics or anything else. But once they've got this, Article 18, and they've approved it, and they'll be talking about more COP11, you just know they're going to try and introduce plastics and try and extend it to vaping products as well.

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Lindsey Stroud: It also makes you wonder, too, on what they gauge as what's successful. I know, I mean, it was our first good cop, so it's really hard. We don't know it to be successful. I think we were successful just because we got under, we were mentioned by so many opponent organizations, and that's what we wanted to do, gauging it. So I honestly think on, like, Thursday, the group, the secretariat group was like, Okay, what did we actually have consensus on? Like, there's been a lot of debates going on. What can we actually say, you know, that we were successful on? Especially because, yeah, the whole lead up to it is what are you going to do about vaping? What are you going to do about these? And I'm not calling them emerging products anymore because vaping has been around. Hanlik invented this in 2003. You're talking about... You were talking about 21 years of the modern e-cigarette. Snooze has been around for centuries and started getting in popularity in the 1990s. So these aren't novel products anymore. there's novel regulation with them i guess is the way to put it um and also a lot of countries going under the guidance of the who which is just taking a prohibitionist stance um for many of these products being used in a commercial sense but yeah they're not arguing for you know the prescription model for access to cigarettes so again what is the like the it was designed you know reading through the history of the fctc to get you know reduce the burdens related to smoking. But now it just seems like they're trying to shut down anything that's related to tobacco industry. I know I was reading something the other day from one of the you know, NGOs that's supported by Bloomberg and they're talking about, you know, doing a summary of the conference and they're like justifying why the lack of transparency and their justification was, you know, to keep it closed doors so that the tobacco industry doesn't interfere with it. And that's the new buzzword right now is tobacco industry interference. So anybody who's watching and is involved with anything, harm reduction, tobacco harm reduction, don't be surprised if you get called, you know, tobacco industry interference.

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Brent Stafford: Yeah, that is what they're saying. And it's not just COP, but it's their supporters around tobacco control. And this is one of the sources that I always find fun to read, which is the Health Policy Watch. And so their summation on this was the WHO FCTC Conference of the Parties adopts new decision on curbing tobacco's environmental impacts, but sidesteps e-cigarettes. And throughout this article, they keep hammering home the point that Lindsay was just making. And that was, it is big tobacco that's created this concept of tobacco harm reduction. And they've utilized that to sway

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Martin Cullip: certain countries which got in the way and obstructed what the good work that cop 10 was trying to do yeah and and you notice in that that i can't i'm just going through it now because i remember reading it there were there was one guy who said well it doesn't doesn't matter you can still go ahead with these things i mean that's that's kind of the attitude they seem to have it's like um we're going to do this anyway um who cares what about the decisions are um Yeah, they were frustrated and everyone who spoke against them, they said were industry. I think the most blatant one was in the opening plenary where they got the woman from the Netherlands. I don't know who she is, maybe a government minister or something. And she came out and she said vaping products were invented by the tobacco industry to addict young people. because they're losing sales. Well, that's completely 100% untrue. I mean, they weren't. They were invented by Hon Lick in China in 2003. It was consumers who took it into their sheds and made them into something useful and set up independent businesses. It wasn't until nearly 10 years later that L'Oreal in America bought Blue, the first time tobacco industry had ever been involved in these things. And I don't know about the figures elsewhere, but in the U.K., the size of the market taken by tobacco industry is about 12%. So this is completely 100% untrue. She just lied in front of these people. And again, no one pulled up from the WHO or the FCTC because they don't care if she's lying because that's the message they want to tell people. They just want to say everyone who disagrees with us is tobacco industry. It's tobacco industry behind all of this. And when they said, I think it was someone else in the plume who said, oh, the tobacco industry puts cartoon characters and lots and lots of flavours. Well, that's exactly what the tobacco industry doesn't do. Their ones don't have any real array of flavours. They're pretty bland and they certainly don't have cartoon characters. That's irresponsible or illegal sellers doing that. It's nothing to do with tobacco industry, but they think if they just keep saying tobacco industry, tobacco industry, tobacco industry, you're a consumer, you're a tobacco industry, everyone's a tobacco industry. If they think they can just say that and they're going to manipulate the public. Now, again, I'm putting myself in their shoes. I would want to do something the right way. I don't want to get policies through by manipulating the public. I want to get them through because they actually mean something and because it's the truth of the thing and the right thing to do for public health. But the WHO isn't interested in public health when it comes to this treaty. They are not remotely interested. They just want what they want and they'll use any tactics they can do, they can use to get it through. They really don't care about the truth or anything else.

00:39:25 --> 00:42:36

Lindsey Stroud: Well, I think to piggyback off of it, it's kind of amazing that it is a consumer-driven revolution. The tobacco industry did not get involved with e-cigarettes, definitely in the States, until after there was thousands of small e-cigarette manufacturers. And even now, I'm sure it's in the UK, too, and around the country that you have easy access to it with vape shops that these are small businesses and it is consumer. What I love about the e-cigarettes and even the whole, all the novel tobacco, the novel, I'm using that word, all the other technologies is that you kind of force big tobacco to change. which is like the WHO couldn't even do. They've signed this treaty in 2005. And instead of like they were just so focused on shuttering, you know, the tobacco industry rather than getting them to change the products that they were coming out. It was the consumers using these safer products that were like, oh, wait, you know, we're going to start. Maybe we should go down this line and everything. But I love it because you're using a safer product. And I like I have a big issue with disposables myself. But Martin and I met we coming back from good cop in Panama. We had a we both rode the same flight back to we had to lay over in Miami. We ended up hanging out at this place that you can smoke in the airport, smoke and vape in there. And we were talking to a 72 year old. who was using a disposable and he had quit smoking three years ago when he was 69 years old. Oh, and he's an anesthesiologist. So he's a doctor. And he had actually moved from a pod system to a disposable and it just convenience likes the flavors. And I, so I, As much of our problems that I have with those product category cannot deny their efficacy and being a harm reduction tool. And that's just really unfortunate with the WHO and especially watching COP 10 that you let all these youth activists, these kids who are more likely never to have been to be using a product, the cigarette or an e-cigarette in their life. but are being fed their Bloomberg associated organization. And the rhetoric that they are spilling is literally the same rhetoric, at least that good cop. Even if there was any associations with us, with any of the big, bad tobacco people, all of our messaging is different. We all are unique voices. We all had a unique experience on this because we've actually been personally impacted by it. I don't think there was a single expert, maybe a couple of them that actually didn't ever smoke or were still vaping. I mean, some of our doctors would have vaped on the panels if we would have let them, you know, so. And I don't think that, again, it goes back to what does the WHO consider a successful conference? What does the FCTC consider a successful treaty? Countries adopting their policies, even though their policies may not fit into that. I know with their whole plain packaging policy policy. We can't do that in the United States because of our free speech laws. I mean, and again, you have to look at what's right for the country and again, looking what's right for the consumer. And that's why tobacco harm reduction, I think, has been so effective in moving so many adults away because it does tend to, you can personalize it as a consumer versus just having a very few limited options from, you know, approved by the WHO or FDA.

00:42:37 --> 00:45:10

Martin Cullip: Can I just add to that? When When Lindsay mentioned the youth there, I mean, these youth groups, like I said, they're indirectly funded by Bloomberg because they're funded by the Global Center for Good Governance in Tobacco Control, which is in turn funded by Bloomberg. So they are Bloomberg funded kids. They're not grassroots in any way, shape or form. They said they were allowed in and the WHO said it's wonderful the kids are getting their say. Well, consumers aren't allowed their say, but it's great these kids are getting their say. And they came out with this astonishing statement. They said, the interests of smokers should never serve as justification for legitimising products that could send even a single child down the path of addiction. I mean, that is astonishing. They're basically saying that adult smokers' lives are basically dispensable. You know, youth might take up vaping and have a mild addiction with very mild harms, coughing, you know, coughing, headaches, whatever, or indistinguishable or apocryphal harms. But no one, no one, not one smoker should be allowed to quit smoking using these products if it means just one single youth gets addicted. That is an astonishing thing to say when you have, what is it, 8 million deaths of adult smokers throughout the world. And they're basically throwing all those people under the bus. I mean, that is a shocking thing. So I mean, even if they were grassroots, someone should take them aside and say, really, you shouldn't be saying that thing. But what's astonishing about that statement by these kids is that it made the closing speech of Adriana Blanco Marquito's closing speech. And she's the head of the FCTC, and she thought that was a fantastic statement, so much that she put it in her closing speech. I mean, these people are just... I mean, have they no political strategy or antenna whatsoever to realize that is a disgraceful thing to say for a WHO, a United Nations organization, to basically say smokers all over the world are dispensable because these kids say that they shouldn't have in one of them enjoying nicotine. I'm staggered. that they can be so desperate to allow those things to be said and to endorse them. Well, it's totalitarian at its very core.

00:45:10 --> 00:45:24

Lindsey Stroud: Absolutely, yeah. They're technocrats. I mean, it's very, and very world nanny organization is what they really need to, WNO is what we should be calling it.

00:45:25 --> 00:45:54

Martin Cullip: I mean, if these kids, if these kids are, if they say they're genuine, which we know they're not, Have they ever thought that, okay, their parents might not smoke, but all over the world, kids their own age have parents who smoke. They're throwing all those kids' parents under the bus, all their mums and dads and uncles and aunts, they're throwing them under the bus. I mean, that is the most selfish thing you can ever hear from a young person, isn't it? And I kind of just don't see how anyone can find that acceptable.

00:45:54 --> 00:46:34

Brent Stafford: Well, look, when you're utilizing, when you're using kids to make ideology happen like they're doing, then it's perfectly acceptable. I mean, throughout history, that's what you do. You use kids to do that. Think about the climate change issue. They've got these kids brainwashed in the exact same way. There's no critique. There's no criticism. breadth of understanding and they just simply tunnel vision and that idea is it's the same and i hate to bring up climate change but it's the most similar thing to what's been going on in tobacco harm reduction that i can point to that well just they're focused on the future

00:46:35 --> 00:48:55

Lindsey Stroud: I think with the closing statement that Secretaria did that was just surprising to me, you're so focused on the future when you look at the raw numbers of when it was signed, the FCTC was signed, there was 1.2 billion, 1.25 billion dollars people smoking around the world now it's 1.3 billion so it's time it's technically an increase and there's population increases but just think about how much it could have been lowered um and especially like i i look at the data and i was looking at some of the data in other countries too just among young people i mean smoking combustible cigarette smoking has been all but eradicated so having these youth here at this conference is supposed to be about tobacco smoke and not paying attention to the people who have been smoking for 60 years and cannot quit but they might be able and they've used the you know who endorsed products already that have been widely available for 20 plus years and still unable to quit smoking it's just astonishing to me and also it should be astonishing to taxpayers around the world you sent you used your taxpayer funding to go to that you know to send your delegates over there and they really didn't get any insight you know onto anything else i think most countries i think the majority of countries that followed most of the empower you know protocols the high taxes banning indoor smoking um you know underage sales plain pad some you know restriction and advertising restrictions those you know tenants but i i It just seems like a waste of time. And I think there was a really scathing editorial in a Panama newspaper just two days ago talking about how it was a big waste of money. It was a big waste of money for them bringing these delegates over there. It's not like it's the Olympic Games where you're going to get a lot of tourism and infrastructure building or anything. It just seemed like a big cocktail party, I think, is what it turned into Google Translation for. Yeah. That's really what it seems like it was. It just seems like a big meet and greet that they did. And I mean, they didn't get much accomplished. And they've spent most of their time complaining about people like me and Martin and TPA and all of our experts. And then the other side, you know, opponent groups, opponents of the WHO. But again, the consumers and the people that their policies are going to dramatically affect.

00:48:56 --> 00:49:57

Martin Cullip: Yeah, it was terrifying. Exactly. I saw those articles. There was earlier in the year or last year, there were Panamanians saying, why are we spending $5 million on this conference when we can't afford incubators for newborn kids? I mean, it's one of those things that there was a little bit of anger about it in Panama. And when they've gone there, they haven't made too many decisions. But But, you know, I suppose it's probably good that they didn't because their ambitions were pretty appalling and grubby. And so we've got past and they haven't really done a lot. They've done the environment. They've found consensus on Article 13 on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship. and little much else. The substantive things with the big threats haven't really gone through, but they will come back in COP 11. We'll have to be on guard. And I've already said that consumers have got to start planning for COP 11 now. We can't let them go.

00:49:58 --> 00:50:05

Brent Stafford: So did we squeak buy or did we log a win here?

00:50:05 --> 00:52:01

Martin Cullip: I think, you know, I watched all those statements and there were a lot of them were just kowtowing to the WHO, but there was, There were a number of them. You know, remember two years ago, or not more than two years ago now because of the postponement of COP9, Philippines astounded everyone by coming out and saying, we're going to regulate this problem. We're not going to ban them. There were a number of countries who said we need to embrace harm reduction. Not in so many words, but they said we are thinking of harm reduction. We're putting it into our local policies. Like I said, I mentioned New Zealand, Armenia, Guatemala, you know, St. Kitts and Nevis. There were more people saying, look, come on, you've got to look at this. You know, we're living in the real world here. We're not living in your ideological one. These things are out. These products are around. If you go and prohibit them, you're just going to massive black markets. Yeah, we're looking at these things. We're going to regulate them. Philippines and New Zealand, I think, were the best two, apart from St Kitts. But that's pragmatism. That's just real world reaction to how things are going. And that's what the WHO should be doing. Surely now it's got to drop its prohibitionist stance. It's just got to start thinking sensibly. If it really cares about reducing smoking-related disease and death, It's got to look at these products and think, how can we incorporate them? Because there are more and more countries regulating now. Last year, I think 2022 was the year of Asia with the Philippines and Thailand are looking, I think, to regulate and other countries around there. And last year and this year, it seems to be Latin America, South America is doing it. We already have Western nations like New Zealand, UK, Sweden, who are having a better approach. So all over the world, this stuff's changing, the environment's changing. And it's about time the WHO really recognized this and started thinking what is actually happening rather than what they'd like to happen.