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COP10 delegations must include consumers – CAPHRA

The member organisations of CAPHRA have written to their respective country FCTC delegations attending COP10 asking that each includes at least one consumer of safer nicotine products.

COP10 will be held in Panama in November. It is hosted by the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).

CAPHRA (Coalition of Asia Pacific Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates) executive co-coordinator Nancy Loucas says: ‘This exclusion of the consumer voice has been one of the main reasons for the misinformation, disinformation and failures of current tobacco control policy around nicotine – including vaping, snus and heated tobacco products.’

She says the FCTC has a mandate to not only pursue Harm Reduction as a core tobacco control policy, but also to involve and include civil society. However, there has yet to be a signatory country which has made the progressive and inclusive call to include consumer stakeholders in their delegations.

This is not the first time members of CAPHRA have written to governments sending delegates to 2023. Late last year they urged them to review the evidence which supports a Tobacco Harm Reduction (THR) approach. It included comprehensive reference material for countries’ COP10 planning, submission writing, and deliberations.

‘Consumers are an untapped experience and knowledgebase who are not represented inclusively in the FCTC process… Delegates to COP10 should be representing the rights and aspirations of the citizens,’ the latest letter outlines.

The letter also makes clear that adults have the right to make choices that help them avoid adverse health outcomes and people who smoke have the right to access less harmful nicotine products as alternatives to combustible and unsafe tobacco. What’s more, they have the right to participate in the policy making process that directly impacts their right to health and wellbeing.

‘As you are undoubtedly aware, the FCTC has a mandate to pursue Harm Reduction. While everyone agrees on the desirability of getting all consumers to stop smoking, arguments concerning means to achieve this have been divisive and, in many cases, complicated, often with deliberate misinformation,’ writes the latest letter to government delegations.

Ms Loucas says it’s outrageously undemocratic that the current process does not allow for engagement and involvement of the main policy stakeholders – the adult consumer community.

“Not only does the FCTC choose to ignore growing international science, it bans from the table the very voice of those who utilise these products to switch away from the deadly forms of tobacco,” says Ms Loucas

The THR advocate says the member organisations of CAPHRA will continue to call on delegates to COP10 to deplore FCTC’s policy to make these sessions closed-door, unaccountable, and unreported – representing only vested interests.

“Millions have successfully used vaping to move away from combustibles and unsafe oral nicotine products, yet the FCTC looks set to bury its head in the sand again at COP10. CAPHRA believes visiting delegations must include a consumer voice to give at least some balance to all the misinformation,” says Ms Loucas.

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