WHO Report Listing Countries With Best Anti-Smoking Practices Excludes Those Endorsing Vapes

Whether it is to be petty, or simply because it still refuses to acknowledge the science proving the relative safety of vapes and other safer nicotine alternatives, the World Health Organization (WHO) has left countries with record low smoking rates out of its list, because their (successful) strategy goes against it’s outdated guidelines. 

The WHO report commends four countries for having met all of its anti-smoking best practice measures. Ironically none of these four have reached impressively low smoking rates and the ones which did never made the list. Why? Because they have gone against the WHO’s outdated recommendations and embraced tobacco harm reduction, which clearly works.

Known as the MPOWER measures, the WHO’s guidelines recommend old fashioned methods such as harsh bans and raising taxes on tobacco. In fact the organization listed the Netherlands, Turkey, Brazil and Mauritius, as examples to follow, even though none of these flour countries have reached significantly low smoking rates.

WHO fails to consider science and real world data
On the other hand, countries which did such as New Zealand, the UK and most notably Sweden, which has reached the impressive smoke-free status of less than 5%, were left out of the list. And this is due to the fact that these have implemented strategies endorsing the use of safer nicotine alternatives such as vapes and snus.

Janet Hoek, a professor of public health at the University of Otago in New Zealand, and co-director of Aspire Aotearoa, a research centre focused on making New Zealand Smokefree, explained that the nation has gone well beyond the measures outlined by the WHO. “The new policies to control smoke tobacco here include a large reduction in the number of outlets selling tobacco products, denicotinisation, and the introduction of a smokefree generation. These are going to be really profound and, we hope, transformational measures.”

Similarly ASH – Action for Smokefree 2025 director Ben Youdan, said that New Zealand’s smokefree policies have already gone far beyond the measures sought by the WHO. He added that local smoking rates have dropped significantly. In fact data indicate that they have reached record lows.

While on the event of World No Tobacco Day on May 31st, MEPs Sara Skyttedal, Johan Nissinen, Tomislav SSokol, Dr Christopher Russel, and Federico N. Fernández, and a group of researchers from global network We Are Innovation, discussed the successful strategy employed by Sweden. This led to the nation achieving the astoundingly low rate, well ahead of its fellow EU countries, and any other countries for that matter. Unsurprisingly, the WHO has not taken this success into consideration, and has clearly solely focused on the fact that this success was achieved via methods (the use of snus) it advocates against.

NZ’s Health Minister commended for progressive approach
Meanwhile last December Tobacco Harm Reduction (THR) advocates praised New Zealand’s Associate Health Minister Dr Ayesha Verrall for not buying into the unscientific facts shared about vaping on debating the smokefree amendment bill in Parliament.

“Some MPs seem determined to rewrite 2020’s well supported vaping legislation. However, the problems around youth vaping are more around enforcement and, frankly, an absence of parental responsibility,” said co-founder of Aotearoa Vapers Community Advocacy (AVCA) Nancy Loucas.

The Environments and Regulated Products (Smoked Tobacco) Amendment Bill has now been passed into law, coming into force last January and Dr Verrall played a main role in its endorsement. “The Minister has made it clear that she understands MPs’ concerns around youth vaping, but she’s also determined to keep her eye on the prize. This piece of legislation is about combustible tobacco – the real scourge and killer on our society,” said Loucas.

The AVCA said that the full impact of the vape bill is yet to be felt, adding that the legislation will help to put New Zealand back on track to achieve Smokefree 2025. Loucas added that this could only be achieved by endorsing vaping as a safer alternative. Luckily, she highlighted, Dr. Verrall did not buy into the ongoing hysteria about vapes and understands that vaping products are an indispensable smoking cessation tool.