Fresh from their much-publicised failures on the handling of the Ebola outbreaks, the World Health Organisation have taken it upon themselves to piss all over anyone, anywhere in the world, who has the temerity to smoke, use an e-cigarette or partake in smokeless tobacco products. You can read all about it here.
So I have a question for you:
How many articles on either smoking or e-cigarettes have you read in the past 5 years? A fair few I should imagine. How many of them contained this: “According to the World Health Organisation…”?
Now don’t get me wrong, journalists have a responsibility to research and report the views of the major authorities in any given issue. What is increasingly worrying – both in the media and more particularly among Public Health authorities and professionals – is how the views of the WHO are used as an appeal to authority to justify an argument.
When the WHO proclaims “More research is needed” or “We shall monitor the situation” and other such bland media sound-bites, it is doubtful whether they have any real impact on a debate. But as we have seen at this week’s FCTC COP6 meeting, their diktats and policy proposals are more than capable of shaping world policy, and we should be very concerned indeed.
Countries such as the US, UK and France have so many vapers and so many vaping advocates, that it is less likely that the FCTC’s unbridled attack on ecigs and tobacco harm reduction will have a massive impact. But who knows? We’ve seen how easy it is for mischievous Public Health industry talking heads to mislead the public in our media already. The FCTC enables them to appeal to authority with even more “credibility”. We can only hope that their arguments have been exposed for the scaremongering witterings that they are, and that their junk science has been destroyed so emphatically that the tide of public opinion is now firmly on our side. It’s certainly beginning to look that way.
The real damage, the real harm that will be caused by the FCTC, is in all the countries where vaping has barely taken off yet. Where laws can be passed and bans can be imposed before people are even given the opportunity to try what it is that is being banned. And where any resistance, however vocal, can be brushed aside with a wave of the WHO-approved diktats.
But of course it goes so much further than that. Not only does the COP6 mean that vapers will have to fight with renewed vigour, but users and advocates of snus and other smokeless tobacco are also in the firing line. In countries where snus is forbidden, it makes it harder for those fighting for its legal sale. In countries where it is permitted, such as Sweden, it gives ammunition to the anti-nicotine extremists who campaign against it.
As for the global tobacco tax policies, I think they will be an ineffective tragedy. They will increase poverty among the world’s smokers and smokeless users, with little chance of any reduction in consumption. Not to mention the boost it will give to the illicit tobacco trade. I’m sure that the superb Christopher Snowdon & Dick Puddlecote will be covering this in greater detail, and with greater aplomb, than I could ever dream of.
So who exactly are these people, who would ride roughshod over the free choices of people in the free world with their undemocratic, unaccountable and increasingly tyrannical outbursts?
Well the WHO is headed by Margaret Chan, who is from China (more specifically Hong Kong, where you may have noticed a few people on the streets recently, demonstrating against the regime).
The new FCTC Bureau President is from….drum roll…..Russia!
I’m pretty sure you’re aware of the democratic and human rights records of these two countries, so let’s move on to the newly-appointed Vice Presidents:
Woah, did you say Oman?
Umm…the Maldives? Really?
Flogging is a punishment imposed upon women for extramarital sex. On 5 July 2009 an eighteen-year-old woman was sentenced to 100 lashings for sex with two men outside marriage; her pregnancy was used by the courts as proof of guilt. The two men were acquitted. Journalists reported that she fainted after the punishment was carried out and taken to a local hospital.
As the state practices Sharia law, homosexuality is illegal. The punishment for men is nine months to one year imprisonment, or 10 to 30 lashes. The punishment for women is nine months to one year of house arrest.
Ah Kenya. I know that’s OK. Isn’t it?
Even the collection of Pacific Islands known as Micronesia appears to have an “interesting” concept of law:
Understanding Law in Micronesia notes that “law in Micronesia is an extraordinary flux and flow of contrasting thought and meaning, inside and outside the legal system”.
As reported by Drew Johnson of the Washington Times, delegates at the WHO FCTC took it upon themselves to throw out the press and public, pass motions without voting, physically restrain and silence delegates who declared opposing views or questioned policy proposals, and took a cool 20 million dollars of taxpayers cash to fund the entire sinister jamboree.
One of the noble goals (and genuine achievement) of supra-national bodies such as the UN and the WHO is to spread modern, transparent, democratic freedoms to some of the darker corners of the world. So when representatives of countries where homophobia, misogyny, corruption and state-sponsored violence are sitting at the top table of an organisation such as the WHO FCTC, then it’s time for those countries that support democracy and freedom to walk away.
They are not fit for purpose.