Why Did WHO Change Its Attitude To E-Cigarettes?

In the past ten years, the policy for e-cigarettes has been unclear and even somewhat unfriendly. Finally, the e-cigarettes industry has ushered in hope at the end of 2021.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has suddenly changed its opposition to leave closed system vaping devices space. (Disposable vape and pods etc. )

When WHO provides the latest advice on the regulation of e-cigarettes, the answer is that e-cigarettes are rapidly iterating, And it should develop different regulatory programs for various products, such as only banning the sale of the open system vaping where the user can control the function of the device and the composition of the e-liquid, and not banning the sale of closed system vaping devices that are currently mainstream on the market.

This statement, WHO was previously vague that e-cigarettes are harmful and should be better regulated, can be seen as a clear difference.

According to Reports, WHO originally wanted to urge countries to adopt the same stringent regulation of vaping as cigarettes at the 9th Conference of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC). But strong opposition from some member states and many criticisms, the WHO postponed the “discussion of new tobacco products” as a priority issue until 2023.

From generalizations to specific analyses, from urging implementation to postponing the discussion, why the WHO’s consistent hard-line attitude has fundamentally changed? What are the signals from these changes?

WHO calls for no generalizations, closed system vaping devices are not on the banned list

E-cigarettes are low-pressure microelectronic atomization devices. The principle is to generate vapor through a rechargeable lithium battery to atomize the E-liquid in the atomizer, like the smoke produced during smoking. It removes the combustion process, avoids harmful substances such as tar and carbon monoxide produced by traditional cigarettes, and is a harm reduction alternative to cigarettes.

The WHO mentioned that should ban of the sale of e-cigarettes for the user can control the function of the device and the composition of the e-liquid, that is, Open system vaping devices. Such products require users to add their e-liquid manually, and because there is no control over the ingredients added, safety lacks essential assurance.

Currently, the mainstream products on the market are closed system vaping devices. Because the user can not add their E-liquid, the security of the closed system vaping devices is relatively high.

In addition, the closed system vaping devices’ harm reduction utility is also more significant. In May this year, the United States authoritative academic journal “Vascular Medicine” (Vascular Medicine) published a new study found that: Compared to the harm reduction of traditional cigarettes and open-system vaping device, the harm reduction of the closed system vaping devices are higher, with no significant impact on human blood lipid levels.

Closed system vape systems reduce harm because of two decisive advantages:

①The E-liquid, in the mainstream closed system vaping device on the market, consists of propylene glycol, propylene glycol, nicotine, and flavoring, removing the tobacco substance and combustion process, which in principle avoids the production of harmful substances such as tar and carbon monoxide.

②Regular closed vaping devices, eliminating the possibility of users to add anything at will. The brand can control the safety of atomized aerosols more finely through physical and chemical testing and independent testing.

Based on the available medical evidence, It should ban the sale of vaping ( open systems ones) in which the user can control the function and composition of the device. In contrast, closed vapes are not included in the ban list. In addition, WHO also recommended that illegal additions to vaping, such as the illicit addition of synthetic cannabinoids, be strictly prohibited.

Although these recommendations do not represent a complete change in the attitude of WHO, it proves that the superficial emphasis on the e-cigarettes”harmful” has changed over time, WHO agrees that there are new and old types of e-cigarettes, the quality of the difference between good and evil, is opposed to the e-cigarettes a stick to death.

After the proposed regulation of e-cigarettes classification, WHO also said it would call for further independent research on e-cigarettes, based on more scientific findings, to reach a consensus with member states on the regulation of e-cigarettes.

Acknowledging the harm reduction effect, the FDA approved allowing three e-cigarettes to market for sale for the first time.

No coincidence that on October 13, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved for the first time three e-cigarette products for sale in the U.S. The FDA’s official website said that there is evidence that the marketing of these products is appropriate to protect public health, which is why it is authorized to allow their legal sale in the United States. “Reduce their (smokers’) tobacco consumption by reducing their (smokers’) exposure to harmful chemicals.” Mitch Zeller, director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, explained the sales authorization this way.

FDA officials have long viewed e-cigarettes as an aid to smoking cessation. In FDA experiments, compared with placebo (non-nicotine), e-cigarettes containing nicotine can help smokers quit smoking in the long term. It has less toxic substances than traditional cigarettes, but it does not mean e-cigarettes are safe; the use of e-cigarettes is still harmful to the brain, lungs, fetal health.

Rabbitvape, as more than ten years of electronic cigarette practitioners, believes that the electronic cigarette PMTA application is significant. On the one hand, the U.S. FDA recognized the harm reduction of e-cigarettes, eliminating the previous concerns for the U.S. market. On the other hand, the United States, as the world’s largest consumer of electronic cigarettes, the FDA’s regulatory dynamics is also the global mainstream regulatory weathervane. The authorization of electronic cigarettes will play a positive role in driving the regulation of electronic cigarettes in other regions and countries; the rule is gradually clear after the penetration rate increase rapidly.

After the FDA released the news, the China Electronic Chamber of Commerce Electronic Cigarette Industry Committee issued an open letter to Chinese e-cigarette practitioners and global practitioners. In the open letter, the United States is the world’s largest e-cigarette consumer market, but also the global e-cigarette regulation “wind vane.” The pass of the audit marks the official recognition of the legality, safety, and harm reduction of e-cigarettes in the United States. It is a milestone in developing the global e-cigarettes industry and will further strengthen the confidence of all e-cigarette practitioners.

Overlooking e-cigarette harm reduction, cessation of cigarette smoking effectiveness criticized by multiple parties, WHO delays discussion of related issues.

In fact, before the WHO changed its attitude toward e-cigarettes, the organization had been criticized by many parties. In July this year, the WHO released the Global Tobacco Epidemic Report 2021, saying e-cigarettes are “harmful to health.” The report was criticized by many public health organizations worldwide for its ridiculous content and impure motives, as it again ignored the proven effectiveness of e-cigarettes in smoking cessation and harm reduction and was considered biased.

The most substantial criticism came from the United Kingdom. The U.K. is one of the best countries globally for tobacco control and was the first country to officially and explicitly support e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation tool.

In 2015, Public Health England had announced that e-cigarettes are 95% less harmful than traditional cigarettes. E-cigarette products are the most common aid for those trying to quit smoking in the U.K., with 27.2% of quitters using e-cigarette products.

Data from the U.K.’s Stop Smoking Service showed that people who used e-cigarettes in their local stop smoking services between 2019 and 2020 had a quit success rate of between 59.7 and 74%.

Thus following the release of the WHO report, the Spectator, a leading British political commentary outlet, has said that if the WHO continues to be bent on opposing e-cigarettes, it will have practical and dangerous consequences for the global public health environment.

“We condemn this unfounded attack on e-cigarettes by the WHO.” John Dunne, chairman of the British Electronic Cigarette Industry Association, said, “We call on the U.K. government to stop funding the WHO if it persists in its single-mindedness.”

According to ECigIntelligence, this “funding cut” stance is crucial for WHO to postpone discussing essential issues until 2023.

After all, Mark Pawsey, chairman of the U.K. Independence Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), publicly questioned why the U.K. government should continue to provide £340 million in funding to the WHO over the next four years.

“The secretariat of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control should stop pointing the gun at e-cigarettes. The U.K. delegation to the conference is full of e-cigarette users who will do their best to promote the right way to regulate e-cigarettes in the U.K. If they succeed, they will save millions of lives.” The Spectator wrote in an editorial.

With the gradual popularity of closed system e-cigarettes, China’s e-cigarette market is rapidly opening up; e-cigarettes have penetrated the public eye, no longer a niche novelty, market awareness has gradually matured.

Of course, the electronic cigarette industry is still in its formative years. The ultimate should focus on the regulation on the industry, strengthening regulation, rather than a broad-brush that is “harmful.” We believe that the future development of electronic cigarettes will be better and better.


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