WHO Criticized for ‘Backward-Looking’ Approach

Tom Miller | Photo: David Parker

Marking World No Tobacco Day, an international group of independent experts has criticized the World Health Organization (WHO) for its “backward-looking” approach to innovation and new technology, such as vaping products.

The experts say they are exasperated by the WHO’s “dogmatic hostility” towards new technology and fear the U.N. health agency will squander the opportunity to avoid millions of premature deaths that will be caused by smoking.

Iowa State attorney general Tom Miller said the WHO has lost its sense of mission and purpose. “It’s as if the WHO has forgotten what it is there to do—to save lives and reduce disease,” Miller said.

“We can do that by helping and encouraging consumers to switch from cigarettes to lower-risk products. This means being honest about the much lower risks and by using smarter regulation to make switching more attractive.”

The group of experts criticizing the WHO include David Abrams of the School of Global Public Health, New York University; Tikki Pangestu, visiting professor, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore; John Britton, professor of epidemiology at the University of Nottingham; Rajesh Sharan, of North-Eastern Hill University, Shillong, India; David Sweanor, Centre for Health Law, Policy and Ethics, University of Ottawa; and Clive Bates, director of Counterfactual Consulting.