Ahead of the upcoming COP9 summit on tobacco products and smoking, people are calling for UK representatives to use our new-found independence to stand up for vaping against the World Health Organisation.

UK is using e-cigarettes to save lives

Public Health England have classed e-cigarettes as 95% less harmful than smoking, and public health authorities in the UK have embraced vaping as a viable and effective alternative to smoking that is helping countless people kick the habit.

Here in the UK we have been able to embrace e-cigarettes as a life-saving tool with the help of constant research and strict regulations. UK smoking rates have now dropped to their lowest ever, with e-cigarettes playing a big role in getting us there.

Since 2012, when e-cigarettes became widely available, countries that have publicly recognised them as a stop smoking aid such as the UK and New Zealand have seen a substantial decrease in smoking rates.

The UK Government has a target to be smoke-free by the year 2030, meaning that smoking rates are at 5% of the adult population or lower. Smoking rates have now dropped to around 14% in the UK, down from 20% in 2011 when e-cigarettes were not yet a widely available option. While there is much work to do in order to achieve the smoke-free 2030 goal, it is clear that e-cigarettes can play a big part in reaching it.

Mark Pawsey, Chair of the ALL Party Parliamentary Group for Vaping, explains;

“The UK is a world-leader when it comes to harm reduction, and during COP9 it is important that we continue to lead the way as we work to reach our ambitious smoke-free 2030 target.”

WHO branded “negligent and incompetent”

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has long been criticised for their dismissive stance on e-cigarettes. Despite an abundance of evidence, they continue to overlook the benefits e-cigarettes hold as a less harmful alternative to smoking, and are now suggesting a ban on vaping products.

Clive Bates, former director of Action on Smoking and Health, branded the WHO as “negligent and incompetent” and accused them of “ignoring the science” around vaping. He explains;

“Millions of lives are on the line. That is not hyperbole. If you resist a life-saving technology where progress has been very slow in the past then essentially you are culpable in denying people that life-saving technology and the result will be more cases of disease and death.”

Unfortunately, the WHO’s stance on e-cigarettes is one that is shared by the European Union (EU), and concerns have been raised that the WHO will not recognise the UK as separate from the EU in the upcoming summit. Former Cabinet minister David Jones is encouraging UK representatives at the COP9 summit to use Brexit as an opportunity to separate the UK from the EU’s opinions on vaping.

Mr Jones explains;

“The WHO has launched an anti-scientific crusade against vaping, which has been shown time and time again to help smokers quit…we are independent and free to back the science, back Public Health England, and back our own health experts, over the WHO.”

The Government will be sending a delegation of officials and experts to the COP9 conference, where they will be able to liaise with their colleagues and counterparts from around the world. It is a fantastic opportunity for the UK to share our success with vaping, and how our stance has already had a visible positive effect on smoking rates. But not only this, it also affords us the opportunity to raise our voice and stand up for vaping against an organisation that has thus far seen it only in a negative light.

At a glance

  • Former Cabinet minister demands Britain stands up to EU during the next summit on tobacco organised by WHO in order to save millions of lives
  • The WHO have been accused of putting millions of lives at risk by trying to ban e-cigarettes
  • Clive Bates, former director of ASH branded the WHO as “ negligent and incompetent” and accused them of “ignoring the science”
  • The UK is one of the few countries to successfully use e-cigarettes to save lives


express.co.uk 10/10/21

Nuffield Trust