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A group of acclaimed experts has written to Asia Pacific’s Health Ministers and Secretaries expressing their deep concern about and questioning the World Health Organisation’s latest Tobacco Product Regulation Report (TobReg).

The Expert Advisory Group of CAPHRA (Coalition of Asia Pacific Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates) warns that WHO’s study group is not acting in public health’s best interests by recommending bans on all aspects of vaping that are the cornerstone of its effectiveness.

“Vaping has been critical in helping smoking adults move away from a product that has a 50% chance of killing them to the safer alternative that has less than a 10% chance of causing harm,” the group wrote.

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In their expert opinion, the group of scientists, researchers, and harm reduction policy advocates say TobReg does not provide credible guidance based on science and evidence. This is despite health leaders requiring evidence-based recommendations to guide their development of pragmatic, risk-proportionate public health regulation.

Asia Pacific’s government health leaders written to were Thailand’s Anutin Charnvirakul; The Philippines’ Dr Francisco T. Duque III; New Zealand’s Andrew Little; Australia’s Greg Hunt; Hong Kong’s Sophia Chan; Indonesia’s Dr Budi Gunadi Sadikin; Malaysia’s Dr Adham Bin Baba; Taiwan’s Shih-Chung Chen; and India’s Dr Harsh Vardhan.

“We respectfully ask that when it comes to decision making around Tobacco Harm Reduction you continue to rely on the international and independent evidence first and foremost as the science,” wrote CAPHRA’s Expert Advisory Group.

Sending a link, the group strongly suggests that the region’s health leaders and their colleagues review the most recent report from the Royal College of Physicians UK.

“This report from RCP UK discusses how to embed risk-proportionate regulations into tax policy and public health promotion. It embraces tobacco harm reduction in a pragmatic way which seeks to provide guidance for real world implementation,” they write.

Executive Coordinator of CAPHRA, Nancy Loucas, also wrote to the region’s health leaders on behalf of CAPHRA’s member organisations based throughout Asia Pacific. The letter made clear that adults have the right to make informed choices based on facts, scientific evidence, and sound harm reduction principles.

“The WHO - at the behest of its various billionaire and corporate financial sponsors who are promoting their own moralistic or commercial agendas - is not acting in the best interests of the people, even though that is what they are mandated to do in their own FCTC (Framework Convention on Tobacco Control) charter,” wrote Ms Loucas.

Consumer groups in the Asia-Pacific region have launched a petition at change.org/v4v-petition that urges the World Health Organisation (WHO) to respect consumer rights and to stop demonizing Tobacco Harm Reduction options ahead of the next biennial meeting of the WHO FCTC in November. 


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