While smoking prevalence remains high, with around 1.3 billion people using high-risk forms of tobacco, over 80% of these live in LMICs.
Titled, “10 reasons why blanket bans of e-cigarettes and HTPs in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) are not fit for purpose,” the INNCO (International Network of Nicotine Consumer Organisations) report points out that while smoking prevalence remains high, with around 1.3 billion people using high-risk forms of tobacco, over 80% of these live in LMICs.
The document was released in response to a position statement by the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union), a Bloomberg partner for ‘The Initiative to reduce tobacco use’. In this statement The Union called for a blanket ban on all electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) and heated tobacco products (HTPs) in LMICs.
The objective of the INNCO report “is to spark conversation about the right to reduce harm as a human rights issue and to highlight the inherent injustice associated with denying people access to safer alternatives simply because of where they live.”
The Bloomberg foreign funding issue
The INNCO is among over 35 national consumer organizations who recently voiced their concern about the foreign funding received by the Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the negative influence it may have on local tobacco harm reduction efforts.
Recently appointed INNCO President Samrat Chowdhery, spoke of the influence exerted by non-government organizations backed by the Bloomberg Initiative, on regulators. “There is also an element of corruption aided by the Bloomberg NGOs, who are co-opting tobacco policy through the sheer force of money. The legislators in Philippines recently questioned the conflict of interest in their FDA receiving funds from these NGOs while pushing anti-vaping policy,” he said during the recent virtual presentation of “Burning Issues: The Global State of Tobacco Harm Reduction (GSTHR) 2020” published by UK public health agency Knowledge Action Change (KAC).