COP10 Urged to Consider Harm Reduction

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    The Coalition of Asia Pacific Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates’ (CAPHRA) nine member organizations have written to Framework Convention for Tobacco Control (FCTC) delegation heads from around the world, urging them to review the evidence that supports a tobacco harm reduction (THR) approach ahead of COP10.

    With governments sending delegates to COP10 in November 2023, CAPHRA was keen to send leaders comprehensive reference material for their COP10 planning, submission writing and deliberations.

    COP10 will be held in Panama and is hosted by the World Health Organization’s FCTC.

    “We do this on behalf of the 4 million current users of safer nicotine products in the wider Asia-Pacific region. As you are aware, our region bears the brunt of the harm and death from combustible and unsafe oral tobacco globally,” said the letter.

    The CAPHRA representatives reminded the health leaders that the FCTC has a mandate to pursue harm reduction as a core tobacco control policy.

    “It has been known for decades that tar and carcinogens found in tobacco smoke cause the death and disease associated with smoking, not nicotine. Research has proven that nicotine, while usually mildly addictive in the same way as caffeine, is not a health issue,” they wrote.  

    The letter also called on delegates to deplore the FCTC’s policy to conduct COP10 sessions behind closed doors.

    “Delegates to COP10 should be representing the rights and aspirations of the citizens whose taxes are paying for their attendance, who expect them to speak on their behalf, acknowledge the science underpinning the harm reduction benefits of ENDS and maintain democratic principles,” they wrote.

    The CAPHRA representatives asked countries to take into account, when making their COP10 submissions, that consumers have the right to make choices that help them avoid adverse health outcomes. What’s more, people who smoke have the right to access less harmful nicotine products as alternatives to smoking.

    The evidence-based documentation was wrapped up in a recently released white paper, titled “The Subversion of Public Health: Consumer Perspectives,” which was presented by CAPHRA executive coordinator Nancy Loucas at the fifth Asia Harm Reduction Forum.