WHO Urged to Stop Spreading Misinformation About Vaping And COVID-19 Risks
By Diane Caruana
Sadly, the WHO has become renowned for becoming aggressively anti-vaping, despite all the scientific data available in favour of e-cigarette use for tobacco harm reduction. CAPHRA Executive Coordinator and AVCA (Aotearoa Vapers Community Advocacy) director Nancy Loucas, has previously highlighted that the health agency’s position against e-cigarettes has been influenced and compromised by vested interests that provide funds to the organisation, as in this case.
“This vested interest has coloured the information in order to serve the political and financial interests of Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Gates Foundation who provide nearly half of all the funding for the WHO-FCTC. The WHO is lying to you to protect their own financial interests and keep their private donors happy. They are not objective. They are not focused on their own mandate under FCTC to promote the health of the people and their right to have information to make informed choices regarding their health,” said Loucas.
The WHO’s reckless approach to vaping
In response to recent allegations made by the WHO, that vaping may increase one’s chances of contracting the corona virus, the CAPHRA had written a 103-page white paper, saying that “in its quest to rid the world of smoking,” the health organization is denying millions the opportunity of quitting successfully via vaping.
“For years, the WHO has created a steady stream of anti-vaping claims, which has had dire consequences for adult smokers seeking to quit. It has also led to many governments passing legislation that bans vaping and all related products. By going this route, the WHO has chosen to support deadly cigarette consumption over a healthier alternative and in the process has forced vaping into the waiting hands of the black market—and they do this with the full knowledge of the consequences of their actions. The lack of legislation means that these unregulated products end up in the hands of minors, courtesy of the WHO,” said Loucas.
There is no evidence linking vaping to contracting COVID-19
CAPHRA accurately pointed out that not only is there no scientific evidence indicating that people who vape are more likely to contract the virus, but that actually there are studies showing that nicotine may act as a protective factor.
“The WHO’s own findings support the position that there is no established link between nicotine and COVID. In Smoking and COVID-19 published in June 2020 by the WHO’s Western Pacific Division, a review of 34 studies concluded that no evidence of a link existed between smoking and the likelihood of catching COVID-19, and that further direct research was needed,” said CAPHRA.
“‘There are currently no peer-reviewed studies that have evaluated the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection among smokers. This research question requires well-designed population-based studies that control for age and relevant underlying risk factors,’ the WHO report said while adding ‘There is no evidence about the relationship between e-cigarette use and COVID-19.’
Results of the largest laboratory study of its kind titled ‘Characteristics and risk factors for COVID-19 diagnosis and adverse outcomes in Mexico: an analysis of 89,756 laboratory–confirmed COVID-19 cases’ showed that smokers were less likely to test positive for COVID-19 than the general population.”
“Nicotine may exert protective effects”
Loucas discussed the white paper further: CAPHRA confirmed that while the findings that smokers are under-represented among COVID-19 patients presented a hypothesis that nicotine may exert protective effects, it is still impossible to state the role of nicotine one way or the other, as there is disagreement over-interpreting the science.
However, CAPHRA said WHO continued to link vaping and COVID in its various briefs and materials, stating that as “the COVID-19 virus affects the respiratory tract, the hand-to-mouth action of e-cigarette use may increase the risk of infection”, without offering any scientific basis.
CAPHRA said the WHO’s continued demonization of vaping bears significant and severe consequences, as a 2012 study (Global economic cost of smoking-attributable diseases by Mark Goodchild, Nigar Nargis, Edouard Tursan d’Espaignet) showed that the total economic cost of smoking was roughly US$422 billion, equivalent to 5.7 percent of global health expenditures, or 1.8 percent of global GDP.
CAPHRA said that unfortunately, the WHO, in its bid to reduce cigarette smoking around the world, refused to identify vaping as a viable harm-reduction option, causing a cascading effect of many governments banning it outright, without consideration to creating protective, sensible, and fiscally responsible legislation. “The effects are devastating, allowing black marketers to sell to minors while robbing the government of revenues.”
“If the World Health Organisation and governments globally can be so reliant on the science around COVID-19, why won’t they take the same approach to the smoking pandemic that kills someone every 10 seconds? Half of all smokers who cannot stop, will die from smoking related illnesses. That is over 8 million deaths per year,” added CAPHRA.
This begs the question “If governments trust the science around the COVID pandemic, why are they not trusting the science on tobacco harm reduction to mitigate the long-standing smoking pandemic?”