UK health experts have slammed the World Health Organization (WHO) for its “backward-looking approach to innovation” and reluctance to include vaping as part of its tobacco control policy on World No Tobacco Day (31 May).

John Britton, CBE, professor of epidemiology at the University of Nottingham and director of the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies, said: “On World No Tobacco Day, the WHO should be driven by one overriding question: How do we get smoking down for the greatest number at the greatest rate?”

“If WHO wants to even come close to meeting its targets to reduce disease, it needs a strategy for smokers who can’t or won’t quit nicotine, and the rise of smoke-free products since 2010 makes that a practical option.”

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Clive Bates, former director of Action on Smoking and Health, said: “When smoking is by far the dominant cause of disease caused by tobacco, why would the WHO use World No Tobacco Day to target one of the most effective and popular alternatives to smoking?”

The World No Tobacco Day 2020 page on the WHO website describes ‘flavours appealing to children in smokeless tobacco, shisha and e-cigarettes’ part of ‘the tobacco industry’s tactics to attract younger generations’.

“We rarely see the vaping industry advertise to adolescents and we never see kids used in commercial vaping ads – but on World No Tobacco Day we have the absurd spectacle of WHO promoting adverts with children vaping,” Britton added.

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