The U.K. Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA) has joined the chorus of voices condemning the World Health Organization (WHO) for its urging of countries to take an aggressive anti-vaping stance ahead of a crucial health summit later this year.
According to leaked documents reported in the Daily Express, the WHO plans to use November’s COP9 summit in the Netherlands as a platform to tell leading international health figures that e-cigarettes are as dangerous as smoking tobacco.
The UKVIA joins the criticism of the WHO by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) Chair Mark Pawsey, MP, who has called into question why the U.K. government is continuing to fund the body to the tune of £340 million ($471.8 million) over the next four years.
The UKVIA notes that this action flies in the face of the scientific reality of vaping in the U.K., which has seen millions of people quit smoking in recent years. Research by British scientists has consistently shown vaping to be the most popular and successful aide to quitting smoking.
The Cochrane Review into e-cigarettes highlights that existing studies show that vaping is nearly 50 percent more effective in helping smokers quit cigarettes than other methods of smoking cessation, according to the UKVIA. The review found that as many as 11 percent of smokers using a nicotine e‐cigarette to stop smoking might successfully stop compared to only 6 percent of smokers using nicotine‐replacement therapy or nicotine‐free e‐cigarettes or 4 percent of people having no support or behavioral support only.
There are already 3.2 million adults in Great Britain who have made the switch from smoking. The vaping industry needs to be supported as a British success and able to assist the remaining 6.9 million adult smokers in the U.K., according to the UKVIA.
“The stance of the World Health Organization is extremely concerning,” said John Dunne, UKVIA director general, in a statement. “The vaping industry here in the U.K., together with the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Vaping, is right to call out these baseless attacks on the sector. Vaping is a great British success story, enabling millions of people to switch from smoking.
“The APPG is also right to call for the U.K. government to reconsider the level of its funding to the World Health Organization in light of these reports. Thankfully, now that the U.K. has left the EU, it is no longer bound by the ridiculous, and quite frankly dangerous, WHO messaging urging the bloc to treat vaping in the same way as smoking.”