Smokers Rights Movement: Fighting for Smokers’ Access to Safer Alternatives

The “Smokers Rights Movement” was solely funded by Max Kosenko, the CEO of Ritchy Group, which is one of the biggest e-liquid manufacturers in Europe. The group however is independent, with no association to any vape or tobacco company, and aims to steer clear from any donations that are affiliated to the tobacco industry.

Like many tobacco harm reduction groups across the globe, the movement is concerned about the upcoming WHO FCTC COP9, being held this November. Despite evidence to the contrary, the WHO has recently announced that no discussions related to safer nicotine alternative products will be taking place at this year’s COP9, a statement believed to be aimed at misleading tobacco harm reduction entities.

In line with counter events organized by other health entities, the Smokers Rights Movement has organized a protest:

“November 7, 2021 Geneva. Protest against W.H.O. devastating approach to Tobacco Control. E-cigs, snus or pouch consumers – all are ex-smokers who don’t want to die. Another 1.3 billion smokers are lied to or deprived of proven options to protect their health.

It’s important to go there and say that ignoring Tobacco Harm Reduction is not acceptable anymore. The policies that kill 20 thousands people every day must be fixed now. Smokers Rights Movement organizes an event with #BlackBodyBag costumes and large scale online streaming. It happens at the place and time where the COP9 is going to happen.

Let’s come to that Sunday event and make a change. There are organized buses from Lyon, Bern, Zürich and Milan.”

A counter conference

Similarly, the Coalition of Asia Pacific Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates (CAPHRA) has organized a major round-the-clock global broadcasting event to take place during the length of the convention, with the aim of scrutinizing the COP9. “Dubbed ‘sCOPe’, or ‘streaming Consumers On Point everywhere’, the five-day livestream will be simulcast via YouTube and Facebook. Presenters and panellists will challenge and scrutinise COP9 – including who’s influencing and funding its efforts to demonise vaping, and why,” announced a recent press release.

CAPHRA Executive Coordinator Nancy Loucas, highlighted that the event is totally independent, non-aligned and organized with the aim of giving a voice to the public. “Before the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers were planning to front up to COP in person and show media our increasing anger for being shut out, once again, from the proceedings. The FCTC’s decision to delay COP9 and host it exclusively online, with no discussions to be publicly released, meant consumers had to take alternative action. Hence, the development of sCOPe,” she said.

“sCOPe is our response to being excluded from the table, as the main stakeholders, of the discussion and decision-making process that directly impacts our health and our right to make informed decisions.”

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