Harm Reduction Campaign

‘Misguided’ push to outlaw vaping in developing nations

In nations where vaping is endorsed by health authorities, such as the United Kingdom, there have been real reductions in smoking. Elsewhere, billionaire Michael Bloomberg’s well-intentioned charitable giving has made the mistake of equating cigarettes with vaping – to the massive detriment of global health – writes Yaël Ossowsk in The Brussels Times.

Since the fallout from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a renewed focus on improving global health, and that’s been a welcome sign.

A study produced by the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that nearly three-quarters of hospitalised COVID patients were either obese or overweight, writes Ossowsk in the opinion article published on 18 March 2021.

At the same time across the European Union, health ministries have put more resources into keeping their populations healthy, using education and incentive programmes to encourage children and youth to exercise, eat healthy foods, and more.

Several of these initiatives have been funded and promoted by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the chief charity vehicle of American billionaire media executive Michael Bloomberg. His charity focuses on causes Bloomberg passionately has championed for years: climate change, public health, education, and the arts.

In October of 2020, Bloomberg’s charity partnered with the Brussels-Capital Region Government for an initiative on air pollution and sustainability, boosting his role as the World Health Organization’s “Global Ambassador for Noncommunicable Diseases and Injuries”.

And while most of Bloomberg’s efforts to improve public health are well-intended, there are cases when the groups he funds are pursuing policies that would be detrimental to the health outcomes of ordinary people, especially when it comes to tobacco control.

Though there is a commitment to reduce tobacco use in middle and low-income countries, a significant part of Bloomberg’s philanthropic fortune has ended up going to global efforts to clamp down on novel vaping products, which do not contain tobacco, and have been proven to be instrumental in getting smokers to quit.

Across the globe, as the use of vaping devices has become more widespread, the number of daily smokers has continued to decrease, hitting low teen digits in many developed economies. This is an amazing achievement. Regardless of that, many of these charities are still dedicated to their destruction.

The conflation between vapers who use non-tobacco-containing vaping devices, mostly fabricated by small companies out of Asia and Europe, and the tobacco industry, however, has shifted the focus of these billion-dollar health efforts.

In direct competition with the all-powerful tobacco industry, independent companies have created alternative devices that are cheap, less harmful, and provide the real potential to quit. The vast majority of vapers use open-tank devices and liquids that do not contain tobacco, a point that is often glossed over in the debate.

Despite the rise of a technological and less harmful method of delivering nicotine through vaporisers, the well-funded tobacco control complex has retooled its efforts to ban vaping outright, using a series of drafted bills, gifts to health departments, and questionable foreign funding of domestic political campaigns.

This has been aided by Michael Bloomberg’s $1 billion global initiative on tobacco control.

In the Philippines, a federal investigation revealed that health regulators received hundreds of thousands of dollars from a Bloomberg-affiliated charity before they presented a draft bill to outlaw vaping devices. Congressional representatives have complained that the law was presented with no debate, and came only after the large grant was received by the country’s Food & Drug Administration.

In Mexico, just this past week, it was revealed that a staff lawyer for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, one of the largest global tobacco control groups funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, drafted the law to severely restrict imports and sales of vaping devices.

It is alleged that Carmen Medel, president of the health committee of the Mexican Chamber of Deputies, contracted the charity to “advise” on the law, but ended up submitting a draft bill that still contained the name of the NGO lawyer who wrote the law.

This is compounded by ongoing investigations into foreign NGO influence on similar policies in India, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi severed ties with the Bloomberg charity after his domestic intelligence services raised concerns.

What makes all of these efforts a tragedy is that a real victory for public health is being stifled in countries that cannot afford it.

In nations where vaping is endorsed and recommended by health authorities, such as the United Kingdom and New Zealand, real reductions in the number of smokers can be seen.

Unfortunately, though Michael Bloomberg’s charitable giving has been significant and well-intended, the groups that receive that money for tobacco control have made the deadly mistake of equating the cigarette to the real alternative of the vaping device.

And that will be to the detriment of global health on a massive scale.

Originally published here.

Назад в прошлое. Как антитабачные меры вынуждают курильщиков возвращаться к сигаретам

Мировая система здравоохранения продолжает вкладывать силы и средства в борьбу с курением. В Украине антитабачные организации тоже не дремлют, зарегистрировав целый ряд законопроектов, призванных бороться с пагубной привычкой миллионов украинцев. РБК-Украина разбиралось, что собой представляют антитабачные инициативы и почему, по мнению экспертов, они могут привести не к снижению уровня потребления сигарет, а к его повышению.

Что хотят запретить

За последние несколько месяцев в парламенте был зарегистрирован целый ряд законопроектов, призванных способствовать борьбе с курением.

Основные из них – повышение акцизов на электронные сигареты и ТИЭНы (табакосодержащие изделия для электрического нагревания), а также внедрение новых ограничений на эти изделия (№4212).

При этом параллельно законодатели рассматривают в профильном комитете комплексный законопроект “Об охране населения от вредного влияния табака” (№4358) и отдельно взятый законопроект об изменениях в закон “О рекламе”, содержащий похожие нормы.

Одним из самых спорных является законопроект №4358. Как рассказывают авторы документа, его целью является – уменьшение распространенности курения среди детей и молодежи.

“Мы знаем, что 90% всех курильщиков начинают курить в возрасте до 18 лет. Именно поэтому этот проект предполагает увеличение медицинских предупреждений, чтобы были большие реалистичные изображения болезней”, – заявила директор общественной организации “Життя” Лидия Олифер, активно выступающая за принятие законопроекта.

Однако, проект закона уже в третий раз дорабатывается профильным комитетом и за год пока так и не был вынесен на рассмотрение парламента.

Борьба с курением или создание новой проблемы

Депутаты, продвигающие эти идеи, зачастую действуют под влиянием антитабачных организаций. С одной стороны, никто не станет отрицать, что борьба с курением важна. Однако даже на международной арене заговорили о том, что фокус на антитабачных инициативах даже ВОЗ мешает бороться с пандемией.

“ВОЗ сбилась с дороги. Вместо того, чтобы организовывать работу по улучшению оборудования для больниц, подготовки врачей и всей системы здравоохранения к возможным новым эпидемиям, “глубокие карманы” Блумберга (Майкл Блумберг финансирует множество неправительственных организаций, направленных, в том числе, на борьбу с курением,  ред.) превратили ВОЗ в глобального полицейского для развивающихся стран”, – заявил заместитель директора Consumer Choice Center (глобальной группы защиты прав потребителей) Йель Островский.

Но главная проблема “антитабачных” инициатив даже не в том, что они отвлекают народных депутатов от более актуальных вопросов. Главная проблема в том, что под эгидой борьбы с курением зачастую продвигается как раз стимулирование бывших курильщиков возвращаться к обычным сигаретам, считают эксперты.

Так, все новые антитабачные инициативы направлены на полное уравнивание регулирования инновационных никотиносодержащих продуктов – электронных сигарет и табака для нагревания – с сигаретами.

Основными потребителями этих продуктов, по данным исследований группы “Рейтинг“, являются бывшие курильщики обычных сигарет. Их переход на менее вредные альтернативы – большой прогресс с точки зрения общественного здоровья, полагает американская FDA.

Дело в том, что у 80% людей склонность к курению определена генетически, говорит Марина Долженко, заслуженный врач Украины, кардиолог высшей категории.

“Да, врачи советуют своим пациентам бросить курить: есть психологическая поддержка, никотинозаместительная терапия. Но, к сожалению, очень часто эти методы неэффективны. И тогда возникает вопрос в доступности альтернативных способов, продуктов с модифицированным риском”, – добавляет эксперт.

Новые ограничения во многом лишат курильщиков стимула переходить на эти менее вредные альтернативы. Ведь после повышения акциза на ТИЭН пачка стиков будет стоить в полтора раза дороже, чем пачка сигарет – что лишает курильщиков финансовой мотивации. А в случае, если парламент примет запрет на продвижение этих товаров, курильщики даже не узнают, что такая альтернатива существует.

Опыт других стран

В передовых странах законодатели идут обратным путем: создают для курильщиков, отказывающихся бросать вредную привычку, стимулы хотя бы перейти на менее вредную альтернативу. Речь идет как о налогообложении, так и о регулировании: и то и другое должно быть пропорционально причиняемому вреду.

“С точки зрения и экономистов, и экспертов в области общественного здравоохранения имеет смысл облагать товары налогом в соответствии с уровнем вреда, который они наносят: налог на классические табачные изделия (сигареты, сигариллы и т.д.) должен быть гораздо более высоким, чем на менее вредные ТИЭН и электронные сигареты. Это будет стимулировать тех курильщиков, которые не могут или не хотят отказаться от никотина, переходить на менее вредные продукты”, – отмечает экс-глава налоговой и таможенной службы Великобритании и консультант Всемирной таможенной организации Лиз Аллен.

В целом же эксперты убеждены, что такой подход приводит к значительному сокращению количества курильщиков. Из-за систем нагревания табака продажи сигарет в Японии упали в 5 раз, а немецкие парламентарии предложили на европейском уровне внедрить разумное регулирование новых табачных товаров – набирающих популярность электронных сигарет и систем нагревания табака. Чтобы, с одной стороны, эти товары не вовлекали в потребление табака подростков, но, с другой стороны, помогали снизить уровень потребления наиболее опасных для здоровья табачных изделий – обычных сигарет.

В Великобритании стимулирование перехода от сигарет к электронным альтернативам является частью политики в области здравоохранения. Из 9 млн курильщиков – треть перешла на бездымные продукты, впоследствии половина вообще бросила курить. Так, в стране количество курильщиков за 5 лет сократилось до исторического минимума – 14,7%. Параллельно снизились заболеваемость и расходы государства на лечение.

Чем обернется для Украины

Эксперты неправительственной организации Taxpayers Protection Alliance раскритиковали ошибочную политику Украины, которая заключается в том, чтобы приравнять наиболее опасные традиционные сигареты, где используется процесс горения, и потенциально менее опасные табачные изделия для электрического нагрева.

По мнению политического аналитика организации Линдси Страуд, политика Украины противоречит недавним рекомендациям государственного Управления по безопасности пищевых и фармацевтических товаров США (US Food and Drug Administration).

“Украина сделала прямо противоположное. И это при том, что уже есть подтверждение, что ТИЭНы уже имели значительное влияние (даже больше, чем акцизы) на снижение курения в Украине. Анализ роста акциза на сигареты в 2018-19 гг. показал, что продажа сигарет уменьшилась на 33%, но государственные доходы от табачного акциза благодаря ТИЭНам выросли в Украине на 10%”, – говорит Линдси Страуд.

В сложившейся ситуации эксперты прогнозируют рост незаконного рынка контрабандной продукции в Украину. Более того, контрабандные ТИЭНы уже распространены в Украине.

“Небольшой магазин в Белой Церкви, в 90 км от Киева, предлагает на продажу ПВТ с английскими предупреждениями о влиянии на здоровье. А китайские ТИЭНы с надписью “Только для продажи в режиме беспошлинной торговли” активно продаются на востоке Украины – от киосков в Запорожье до пивных магазинов в Никополе”, – сообщают в организации.

Таким образом, украинские законодатели под эгидой ограничения доступа курильщиков к информации о менее вредных альтернативах, сознательно или нет, создают благоприятную среду для возвращения к более дешевым, но гораздо более опасным сигаретам.

“Если украинские государственные учреждения здравоохранения заинтересованы в будущем без курения, они должны учесть потенциал товаров для снижения вреда табака. Верховная рада должна прислушиваться к науке и здравому смыслу”, – резюмируют аналитики Taxpayers Protection Alliance.

Originally published here.

Vape dan Pentingnya Mempromosikan Harm Reduction di Indonesia

Harm Reduction merupakan istilah yang mungkin masih terdengar asing bagi banyak masyarakat Indonesia. Istilah ini umumnya merujuk pada advokasi dan upaya untuk mengurangi resiko dampak suatu hal atau perilaku yang bisa membahayakan kesehatan seorang individu, atau sebuah komunitas, seperti rokok, alkohol, atau obat-obatan terlarang.

Saat ini, sudah hampir mustahil bisa dibantah lagi, bahwa obat-obatan terlarang seperti penggunaan narkoba dan zat-zat psikotropika, konsumsi rokok dan minuman beralkohol secara berlebihan, atau perilaku kegiatan seksual yang berganti-ganti pasangan adalah hal yang berbahaya. Rokok misalnya, secara ilmiah sudah terbukti dapat menyebabkan berbagai penyakit kronis seperti kanker dan serangan jantung, dan perilaku seksual yang berganti-ganti pasangan dapat berpotensi menimbulkan berbagai penyakit menular seksual seperti HIV/AIDS.Untuk itu, advokasi harm reduction adalah hal yang sangat penting untuk digaungkan demi mencegah dampak buruk dari berbagai hal tersebut terhadap individu dan masyarakat. Terkait dengan penyebaran penyakit menular seksual misalnya, advokasi penggunaan alat kontrasepsi seperti kondom merupakan salah satu advokasi harm reduction yang kerap digaungkan oleh berbagai aktivis dan organisasi-organisasi sipil.

Sementara itu, terkait dengan penggunaan zat-zat psikotropika, beberapa negara di dunia sudah mengeluarkan berbagai kebijakan yang berujuan untuk harm reduction dampak dari zat-zat tersebut. Portugal misalnya, pada tahun 2001 menjadi negara pelopor yang mengeluarkan kebijakan dekriminalisasi terhadap penggunaan seluruh narkoba. Tidak hanya itu, Pemerintah Portugal juga menyediakan layanan pemberian narkoba seperti heroin dan kokain kepada para pecandu dengan dosis yang dianggap aman (Time.com, 1/8/2018).

Sebagaimana dengan pengunaan obat-obatan terlarang dan perilaku seksual yang berganti-ganti pasangan, berbagai pihak juga mengusahakan upaya harm reduction untuk konsumsi produk tembakau seperti rokok yang berbahaya bagi kesehatan. Sebagaimana yang sudah diketahui secara umum, rokok adalah salah satu produk yang paling adiktif, dan mereka yang sudah menjadi penggunanya, terlebih yang sudah mengkonsumsi rokok setiap hari selama bertahun-tahun, sangat sulit untuk menghentikan kebiasaan yang sangat berbahaya tersebut.

Indonesia sendiri misalnya, merupakan salah satu negara dengan persentase perokok aktif yang tertinggi di dunia. Pada tahun 2020 lalu, 39,9% penduduk Indonesia, atau sekitar 57 juta orang, adalah perokok aktif (economy.okezone.com, 13/12/2020). Perokok di Indonesia juga didominasi oleh laki-laki dewasa, yakni sebanyak 62,9% laki-laki dewasa di Indonesia adalah perokok aktif (suara.com, 19/11/2020).Hal ini tentu adalah sesuatu yang sangat memprihatinkan. Konsumsi rokok yang tinggi di Indonesia telah menyebabkan banyak penyakit kronis hingga kematian yang disebabkan oleh konsumsi produk tersebut, Setiap tahunnya misalnya, di Indonesia, sekitar 225.000 orang meninggal disebabkan karena penyakit akibat penggunaan rokok (who.int, 30/5/2020).

Tingkat penggunaan rokok yang tinggi di Indonesia tentu juga tidak bisa dihilangkan atau diatasi dengan mudah, seperti dengan melarang paksa produk tersebut. Rokok merupakan bagian dari keseharian jutaan masyarakat Indonesia selama berhari-hari, dan pelarangan atau pembatasan penggunaan rokok tentu adalah kebijakan yang tidak efektif. Selain itu, bukan tidak mungkin langkah tersebut justru menjadi kebijakan yang kontra-produktif karena akan semakin meningkatkan penjualan rokok ilegal yang pastinya jauh lebih berbahaya karena peredarannya tidak diatur dan diregulasi oleh pemerintah.

Untuk itu, adanya produk yang lebih aman untuk dapat menggantikan rokok merupakan sesuatu yang sangat penting, demi mereduksi dampak negatif yang disebabkan dari rokok. Salah satu dari produk tersebut yang terbukti jauh lebih aman daripada rokok adalah rokok elektronik, atau yang dikenal dengan nama vape.Berdasarkan laporan yang dikeluarkan oleh lembaga kesehatan publik Inggris, Public Health England (PHE), rokok elektronik atau vape adalah produk yang 95% lebih aman daripada rokok konvensional yang dibakar (Public Health England, 2015). Hal ini disebabkan karena dua bahan utama yang terkandung dalam cairan yang digunakan oleh rokok elektronik adalah bahan yang dikenal dengan nama propylene glycol (PG) dan vegetable glycerin (VG).

PG dan VG sendiri adalah bahan yang digunakan untuk membentuk uap dan menambah rasa di produk rokok elektronik. Kedua bahan tersebut merupakan bahan yang umum dan digunakan dalam berbagai makanan, seperti perasa kue, dan telah dinyatakan aman oleh berbagai lembaga regulator di seluruh dunia, salah satunya adalah oleh lembaga regulasi obat dan makanan Amerika Serikat, U.S. Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) (U.S. Food and Drugs Administration, 2019). Dengan melegalkan dan menyediakan produk alternatif yang lebih aman, diharapkan para perokok di Indonesia dapat semakin terbantu untuk mereka dapat menghilangkan kebiasaan merokok mereka, yang sangat berbahaya bagi kesehatan. Kebijakan yang berorientasi pada harm reduction terhadap dampak negatif rokok sendiri merupakan kebijakan yang sudah diberlakukan di berbagai negara, salah satunya adalah di Inggris.

Pasca laporan PHE tahun 2015 mengenai dampak vape yang lebih aman dibandingkan dengan rokok konvensional yang dibakar, Pemerintah Inggris lantas memberlakukan kebijakan kesehatan publik yang berorientasi pada harm reduction. Lembaga kesehatan nasional Inggris, National Health Service (NHS) misalnya, mengadvokasi penggunaan vape kepada para perokok untuk membantu mereka berhenti dari kebiasaan merokoknya. Produk-produk vape juga dijual di berbagai rumah sakit di Inggris (Consumer Choice Center, 2020).

Hal ini pula yang diungkapkan oleh Direktur World Vaper’s Alliance (WVA), Michael Landl. WVA sendiri merupakan organisasi pegiat hak-hak vapers di seluruh dunia dan untuk melawan berbagai miskonsepsi terhadap produk-produk vape, dan mendukung regulasi yang baik.Landl, dalam salah satu interview yang saya lakukan, mengatakan bahwa saat ini, Inggris merupakan salah satu negara yang memiliki kebijakan paling baik terkait dengan regulasi vape. Pemerintah Inggris secara aktif mengadvokasi warganya yang perokok, yang belum siap berhenti, untuk mengganti kebiasaannya ke rokok elektronik atau vape (Landl, 2021). Dampak dari kebijakan tersebut sangat positif. Kebijakan kesehatan publik yang berorientasi pada harm reduction dampak rokok melalui advokasi penggunaan vape telah berhasil membuat 1,5 juta perokok di Inggris menghentikan kebiasaan merokoknya (Consumer Choice Center, 2020).

Di Indonesia sendiri, agar upaya harm reduction dapat berhasil, ada beberapa aspek yang sangat penting untuk diperhatikan. Dosen Departemen Politik dan Pemerintahan, FISIPOL, Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM), Wawan Mas’udi, menulis bahwa setidaknya ada empat poin penting agar upaya harm reduction dapat berjalan dengan baik di negeri kita (vapemagz.co.id, 18/9/2020).

Pertama, harus ada sistem dan rezim pemerintahan yang berorientasi pada resiko untuk mempertimbangkan kebijakan yang akan diambil. Hal tersebut merupakan prasyarat pokok yang sangat penting. Kedua, harus ada sistem kelembagaan yang dapat mendukung pemberlakuan dari upaya harm reduction, dan harus ada sinergi yang baik antar sektor kelembagaan tersebut.

Ketiga, harus ada langkah yang menguatkan keterlibatan dari komunitas agar upaya tersebut dapat berjalan efektif dan mendapat dukungan dari masyarakat. Dan yang terakhir, harus ada sumber daya personil yang terampil dan memiliki kemampuan untuk mengkomunikasikan serta meyakinkan para pemangku kepentingan agar upaya harm reduction tersebut dapat berjalan dengan baik. Melalui keempat aspek tersebut, diharapkan upaya harm reduction dalam rangak mengurangi dampak negatif dari rokok bisa berjalan lancar di Indonesia.

Sebagai penutup, upaya harm reduction sangat penting untuk meminimalisir dampak negatif dari berbagai produk atau perilaku yang dapat membahayakan kesehatan seseorang atau komunitas. Untuk itu, diharapkan Pemerintah Indonesia serta berbagai kelompok masyarakat di Indonesia dapat mendukung berbagai upaya tersebut, untuk menciptakan Indonesia yang lebih sehat di masa yang akan datang.

Originally published here.

Заохочення вейпінгу в Україні може врятувати понад 2 мільйони життів

Глобально – вейпінг може врятувати понад 200 мільйонів життів.

За результатами нового дослідження, ефективніше регулювання електронних цигарок може врятувати понад 200 мільйонів життів у ​​61-ій країні. В Україні – понад 2 мільйони.

Минулого тижня World Vapers Alliance опублікували унікальне дослідження, в ході якого було проаналізовано регулювання електронних цигарок у 61-й країні. Згідно з отриманими висновками, завдяки спрощеному регуляторному режиму, який заохочує електронні цигарки як спосіб кинути палити, 196 мільйонів нинішніх курців у цих країнах можуть перейти на вейпінг, який був визнаний як на 95% менш шкідлива альтернатива.

Переваги вейпінгу відомі вже давно. Електронні сигарети або вейп-пристрої були створені як більш безпечна альтернатива курінню з метою допомогти курцям – особливо важким – кинути курити і споживати нікотин у менш шкідливий спосіб. Цільова аудиторія вейп-пристроїв – споживачі, які курять звичайні сигарети. Про успіх електронних цигарок можна судити тільки шляхом оцінки кількості курців, які змогли або повністю кинути або почати курити менше за допомогою згаданих інноваційних пристроїв, або ймовірності, що вони це зроблять.

COVID нагадав нам всім, що наше здоров’я має першорядне значення, і регуляторні органи, які зацікавлені в тому, щоб люди кинули палити, повинні керуватися наукою, а не піддаватись ідеології.

Інтерактивну карту та всі дані можна знайти тут

Автори карти порівняли поточну кількість постійних та непостійних вейперів. Політика Сполученого Королівства щодо зменшення шкоди тютюну була взята як орієнтир і приклад ефективного регулювання. На підставі цих даних було пораховано, скільки курців могли би перейти на вейпінг, і таким чином кинути палити.

Незважаючи на те, що Україна відносно ліберально поки підходила до регулювання вейпінгу, дискусія починає набирати нових не дуже позитивних обертів.

З 1-го січня 2021-го року, для електронних сигарет було введено окрему товарну підгрупу і встановлено ставку акцизного податку на рівні 1456,33 грн за 1 тис. штук в 2021 році. Щорічно ця ставка буде підвищуватись на 20% до рівня 2516,54 грн за 1 тис. штук в 2024 році. Електронні сигарети допомагають кинути курити, а тому обмеження доступу до вейпінгу шляхом підняття акцизних податків зробить тільки гірше для всіх і в першу чергу для хронічних курців.

У Сполученому Королівстві Public Health England, агентство Міністерства охорони здоров’я, активно рекомендує курцям переходити на електронні сигарети, і, відповідно, були запроваджені дуже прогресивні умови для підтримки і заохочення вейпінгу. Завдяки цій політиці, там спостерігається позитивна тенденція щодо зменшення кількості курців у порівнянні з країнами з надмірним рівнем регулювання вейпінгу. У Великобританії сьогодні курять приблизно на 25% менше людей порівняно з 2013-м роком, коли вейпінг ставав популярним, тоді як, наприклад, в Австралії – одній з країн з найсуворішими правилами вейпінгу, за той самий період було зафіксовано падіння лише на 8%. Франція, Канада та Нова Зеландія дотримувалися підходу, подібного до Великобританії, і в цих країнах спостерігаються позитивні результати.

Важливо пам’ятати, що попит на сигарети сам по собі є нееластичним, і такі заходи, як заборона реклами та акцизні податки не є ефективними у боротьбі з курінням. Навпаки, вейпінг служить рятівною альтернативою, яка надає курцям можливість зменшити ризики, пов’язані зі здоров’ям, і врешті-решт кинути палити.

Тому політики також повинні переосмислити сучасний підхід до вейпінгу і розглядати його як шанс поліпшити здоров’я населення.

Originally published here

Planet of the Vapes: Vaping is the gateway out of smoking

The Parliament Magazine is issued on a fortnightly basis to inform and educate politicians with “with balanced, objective and informative coverage”. The latest issue carries an article by Consumer Choice Center’s Maria Chaplia and World Vapers’ Alliance’s Michael Landl saying that “Vaping is the gateway out of smoking”.

The World Vapers’ Alliance has been exceptionally active lately, from attacking the SCHEER Report [link] and demonstrating at the European Parliament [link] to organising a spectacular protest in the Netherlands [link].

The Consumer Choice Center says it, “is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.”

The Parliament Magazine and its sister publications highlight, “innovation and best practice across key regional policy sectors, as well as providing up to date news and analysis of regional policy legislation and developments at EU, national and regional levels.”

In the latest edition Chaplia and Landl say: “The innovative nature of vaping has contributed to its success and allowed it to quickly gain popularity among smokers.”

They argue that despite the novel technology being targeted by opponents as a gateway into smoking the truth is the opposite, and the longer the EU continues to attack harm reduction, “the fewer smokers get a chance to switch to a safer and healthier alternative.”

The newest Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) UK report states that “only 0.3 percent of never-smokers are current vapers (amounting to 2.9 percent of vapers)”. Therefore, a gateway effect to smoking is not reflected in the data and many studies show the opposite effect. For example, smoking rates in the UK – where public health authorities encourage vaping as a gateway out of smoking – are at an all-time low and there is no sign of vaping causing more smoking.”

They address the fact that countries which have embraced harm reduction, such as the UK, have seen accelerated declines in smoking rates, whereas countries like Australia have witnessed a deceleration to abject stalls.

The correlation between the introduction and the popularity of vaping and declining smoking rates suggests that vaping is an important innovation to help people quit smoking. The 2018 US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Report found that the smoking rate has decreased overall more rapidly since vaping became more prominent in the United States.”

While politicians may read the text, will they listen to the message? It’s very clear: “Despite many voices seeking to undermine vaping as a gateway out of smoking, the evidence is sound: vaping saves lives.”

Originally published here.

UK: Bipartisan Inquiry Into The UN’s Harmful Anti-Vaping Regulations

With growing international recognition of the danger to public health the World Health Organization poses, it is pleasing to see that across the pond a bi-partisan committee has been established to launch an inquiry into the scandal-prone taxpayer-funded bureaucracy. https://www.facebook.com/plugins/quote.php?app_id=&channel=https%3A%2F%2Fstaticxx.facebook.com%2Fx%2Fconnect%2Fxd_arbiter%2F%3Fversion%3D46%23cb%3Df12cad97182a658%26domain%3Dwww.atr.org%26origin%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fwww.atr.org%252Ffb516df5bf615%26relation%3Dparent.parent&container_width=567&href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.atr.org%2Fuk-bipartisan-inquiry-uns-harmful-anti-vaping-regulations&locale=en_US&sdk=joey

The All Party Parliamentary Group for Vaping, comprised of Members of Parliament across all sides of politics, is currently collecting evidence on the failures of the UN’s anti-tobacco harm reduction policies

The Americans for Tax Reform Affiliate, the Property Rights Alliance, submitted the following testimony to the Inquiry (full version with citations may be downloaded here): 

29 January 2021

Subject: Comments to the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Vaping Inquiry into the Ninth Conference of the Parties

Dear Chairman Pawsey,

Thank you for the opportunity to submit comments to the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Vaping (APPG) inquiry into the Ninth Conference of the Parties (COP9).

Property Rights Alliance (PRA) is an international advocacy and research organization based in Washington, D.C. dedicated to protecting intellectual property rights, physical property rights and promoting innovation around the world.

1.UK Government policies should promote the successful quit aid tools.

There is a consensus in the United Kingdom among academics, scientists, and the medical community that reduced-risk tobacco alternatives such as vaping e-cigarettes are significantly less harmful than smoking combustible cigarettes. Extensive research by Public Health England and the Royal College of Physicians has determined that by providing users with nicotine, but bypassing the combustion process that is the main cause of tobacco-related morbidity, electronic cigarettes are 95% less harmful (Public Health England, 2018) than combustible tobacco. For this reason, over 30 of the world’s leading public health organizations have endorsed nicotine vaping as safer than smoking and an effective way to help smokers quit.

In addition to their relative safety compared to combustible tobacco, scientific data support the function of vaping products as a successful quit aid tool considerably more effective than traditional nicotine replacement therapies. A 2019 study by the U.K. National Health Service published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that e-cigarettes may help adults quit. A group assigned to e-cigarettes as a combustible tobacco replacement were more likely to remain abstinent at one year compared with a group using nicotine replacement products (18% versus 9.9%).

According to a report commissioned on e-cigarettes by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (2018) which analyzed the findings of 800 peer-reviewed studies, it was determined that there is moderate evidence that risk and severity of dependence are lower for e-cigarettes than combustible tobacco cigarettes. and that there is conclusive evidence that completely substituting e-cigarettes from combustible tobacco cigarettes reduces a user’s exposure to numerous toxicants. The published update of the Cochrane Collaboration review in October 2020 also showed that e-cigarettes helped smokers to achieve long-term smoking abstinence.  It assessed the results of 50 studies from across 13 jurisdictions, representing 12,430 participants.

As a result of their effectiveness as an aid to quit smoking, e-cigarettes have become extremely popular, increasing from about seven million users in 2011 to 41 million in 2018 (Euromonitor International). Over the next 10 years about six million premature deaths could be averted, if most smokers switched to e-cigarettes.With the introduction of e-cigarettes, a rapid drop in the smoking rate has coincided from 19.3% in 2010 to 13.7% in 2018.

Public Health England has played a significant role in advancing evidence-based policymaking and ensuring that alternative nicotine delivery devices, which are less harmful than smoking, are available to smokers who are trying to quit. As such, this is in line with Government Policy to reduce mortality rates.

The FCTC has as its mission to ‘protect present and future generations from the devastating health, social, environmental and economic consequences of tobacco consumption and exposure to tobacco smoke …. to reduce continually and substantially the prevalence of tobacco use and exposure to tobacco smoke.’ Policies enacted under this framework must therefore aim to actually reduce smoking prevalence. Evidence has demonstrated that recent policies promulgated have not only strayed from this goal but are in active opposition to it.  While the UK has played a positive role in terms of reducing the burden of people smoking, and with e-cigarettes helping millions of adult smokers quit smoking, it is disturbing that the World Health Organization thus far refuses to acknowledge the science and is actively advising governments against effective tobacco harm reduction policies.  The government of the United Kingdom should promote harm-reducing practices within the WHO discussions and reduce barriers to access innovative products that are game-changers for smoke-free policies. Any measures that COP9 will propose should recognize the data presented and consider the UK national experience.

The United Kingdom, as a global leader in tobacco control, can ensure that regulatory measures are based on sufficient and convincing data. This is the only case to implement realistic measures to each country that will be efficient. A general idea about the protection of public health is not enough. The reports to COP9 will likely continue to recommend that countries either ban new harm reduction products or regulate them strictly to discourage their use. An example of strict regulation is the Plain Packaging implemented for tobacco, which has been conclusively proven to have failed to have any impact upon smoking rates in any jurisdiction where it has been tried but has instead led to a boon in black market illicit tobacco smuggling by international criminal syndicates.  

2.The discussions within the WHO and COP do not reflect real-life evidence.

The policy positions presented by WHO should be based in realistic and accurate criteria about tobacco consumption and efficacy of harm reduction tobacco products. A procedure based in transparency and public consultation will contribute more to the goal of smoking reduction. The Advisory Bodies (TobReg and TobLanNet) and the Governing body of COP should collect data from independent scientific teams and make them visible to countries like the UK. Similarly, it is a fundamental principle of good government that decisions be made in an open, accountable, and transparent manner. Unfortunately, COP meetings operated behind closed doors, with no opportunity for journalists, scientists or non-profit watchdogs to observe or participate.  Furthermore, there is no public consultation between the release of the Secretariat report and the COP session. WHO should make transparency part of their policy.

As most anti-tobacco policies and legislation ratified under the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) aim to reduce smoking prevalence, the justification of COP proposals should be formed based on the smoking rate of each category (adults, youth etc), the tobacco consumption and the success of the quit aid tools in each country. Massive bans or brand removals are trade tactics oriented towards the market structure and not the protection of public health. Prohibition time and time again has been shown to fail.

In contrast to the “abstinence only” policy of the WHO, Public Health England (PHE) has offered guidance for employers and organizations looking to introduce policies around e-cigarettes and vaping in public and recommends that such policies should be evidence-based. This is a more sensible system of regulation, which works with consumers to ensure better public health outcomes. It is noted that the UK government can further improve some aspects of its tobacco policy and the constraints (health warnings and advertising ban) imposed by the EU Tobacco Products Directive should be removed so as to ensure smokers have access to appropriate information regarding the health benefits of quitting smoking through vaping.

3.The tobacco control policies for adolescents and the unintended consequences of proposals.

In the UK, the rate of minors using vape products has consistently been below 2 percent.Data from the 2019 ASH YouGov Smokefree youth GB survey suggest that a large majority (93.8% in total) of children ages 11-18 in the UK who have never smoked have also never used an e-cigarette (87.8%) or are not even aware of them (6.0%). The overall trend in tobacco use over time in both adults and children has been downwards since 2010, when e-cigarette use became widespread among adult smokers and ex-smokers (Adult smoking habits in the UK, 2017-2018). A 2018 report by Public Health England found that e-cigarettes are attracting very few young people who have never smoked into regular use and that e-cigarette use among never-smokers is less than 1%. A possible flavor taste ban is a policy measure hurting the public health and the UK Government should be aware of the unintended consequences of such measures. Governmental policies should protect young people and at the same time provide a cessation aid for people attempting to quit smoking. 

The United Kingdom followed the European Tobacco Products Directive in response to the WHO’s call to action in preventing youth from using tobacco products. In a framework of going completely ‘smoke-free’ by 2030, the UK banned the manufacture and sale of menthol cigarettes since 20 May 2020, despite the lack of evidence of flavored tobacco being responsible for any increased tobacco usage. Alternative products such as menthol vaping products  are still available in the market. In some countries such as Netherlands, the Government proposed banning flavors in electronic vaping products as well, a measure that failed to consider the public health benefit of a harm reduction tool.

Flavors must remain available through legal channels as a matter of consumer safety. Otherwise, the black-market will flourish while putting dangerous products in the hands of thousands of consumers. Banning vape flavors practically misinforms smokers about the relative risks of e-cigarettes and limits the usefulness of vaping. Significantly more adults and youth may go back to smoking combustible tobacco. According to the Consumer Choice Center, access to flavors increases the likelihood of quitting smoking by 230% and 260,363 vapers would be driven back to smoking without them.

According to the ASH Smokefree Great Britain 2019 Survey, if the flavours were banned, 1 in 5 smokers said they would either smoke more tobacco or return to smoking tobacco. A US 2017 survey of young adults using both e-cigarettes and vaping products, indicated that a ban on e-liquid flavors would lead to increases in combustible cigarette use and simultaneously lead to reductions in e-cigarette use. As such, any proposals through the COP process to further restrict access to flavoured vaping products would without doubt lead to an increase in people smoking combustible cigarettes.

4.WHO bans the use of tobacco harm reduction tools, moving away from FCTC objectives.

According to the latest Global State of Tobacco Harm reduction (GSTHR) report(GSTHR, Burning Issues 2020) almost 100 million people are now using a range of vaping products and they do not use combustible cigarettes at all. The evidence provided by this report shows the effect of harm reduction products such as e-cigarettes on the global decline in cigarette consumption per adult.

On the contrary WHO in its latest report from their expert committee on Tobacco Product Regulation, released December 23rd, recommended to ban and prohibit e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products (WHO Expert Committee Meeting Report, Dec 23, 2020). This recommendation conflicts with the FCTC protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products that aimed at eliminating all forms of illicit trade in the tobacco environment. The banning of vaping products would lead the smokers to purchase their e-cigarettes from illicit markets or from jurisdictions where they are legal. Public health may be damaged with a sharp rise in smuggling and sale of illegal e-cigarettes. Illicit trade of e-cigarettes is a mounting problem across the globe that hurts economies and also may be used to fund terrorist and similar criminal enterprises. Furthermore, it ignores the scientific evidence provided indicating the power of vaping products to increase quit rates more effectively or to modify behaviors associated with combustible cigarettes.

Despite the fact that the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) aims to reduce harmful tobacco consumption, there have only been a few attempts to empirically evaluate the impact of this international treaty. Unfortunately, there is no empirical interventional study to evaluate the effectiveness of the decision to adopt a tobacco control treaty as a strategy for reducing global cigarette consumption. Analysis of tobacco consumption trends is necessary to discern patterns for future tobacco control policies including the different priorities of each country’s strategy. No internationally comparable data on tobacco consumption are available for analysis by quasi-experiment. An interdisciplinary and international collaboration is necessary under the WHO, setting down standards for research and assessing risk and benefits.

Among FCTC’s mandates was the investigation of novel tobacco products. The FCTC is not a good forum for encouraging new ideas. The investigation by FCTC apparently is limited to strict regulations of tobacco products that often referred to the products as a “serious barrier to progress”.There is a persistent problem with the WHO relying on poor evidence or the motivated reasoning of activists. The WHO Executive Board 146th session meeting (February 2020) called for countries to ban or restrict the use of e-cigarettes and novel and emerging tobacco products. FCTC has examined a limited amount of scientific evidence and, by their own admission, “international scientific consensus was not yet reached”on the existing health effects.

WHO should take a fresh look at the function of e-cigarettes as a harm reduction tool and accept the progress that the tobacco industry has made in developing products that are able to significantly reduce smoking. Science should come first in every health issue or situation. The pandemic crisis confirmed this statement. Policies of WHO, including plain packaging and banning of vaping products, damage Intellectual Property Rights and innovation. States can protect public health without damaging private property right protections and security of innovation. Tobacco control should be a social, public health, and quality-of-life concern rather than a business and trade issue.

5. Intellectual Property Rights are significant for the innovative harm-reducing products.

E-cigarettes became possible only due to strong intellectual property rights in a competitive open market. Intellectual property rights connect innovators with consumers’ demand for harm-reducing products. States can protect public health without compromising the protection of private property rights and market-driven innovation. The effective protection of intellectual and property rights is essential and can promote investment in the market.

When a ban in tobacco products is introduced, the right to property (Article 1, First Protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights) is weighed against the legitimate interest of public health. The rationale for the health function of banning vaping products contradicts the overwhelming evidence on e-cigarettes as the most successful quit aid. It is a discriminatory measure for consumers, who are denied the access to products with reduced risk. It may support some fundamental rights including the right to health and a clean environment, but it unduly violates the right to liberty, property and equality. Practices like these, discourage investment and put businesses at risk of losing their competitive edge. Policies that undermine innovation often have unintended consequences, and Property Rights Alliance opposes all measures that have irreparable harm to intellectual property.

6. Conclusion

The initial intention of the COP process was to reduce tobacco dependency and the associated mortality caused by the smoking of conventional tobacco products. In actively opposing the opportunities presented by newer reduced-risk tobacco alternatives such as e-cigarettes, the World Health Organization is now actively working against its stated mission. It is furthermore deeply troubling that independent scientific experts remain excluded from the COP9 process, and the complete lack of transparency and consultation violate every norm of sound public policy.

As a result of the WHO pursing a policy agenda that is contrary to science, the UK faces significant threats that its successful harm reduction model may be undermined, and access to life-saving products may be restricted. As such, unless the UK and like-minded pro-science governments are able to achieve serious structural reform in the WHO, the UK needs to re-evaluate its participation in the FCTC.

Originally published here.

Brusel ide do vojny proti rakovine. Cigarety a alkohol výrazne zdražejú

Ilustračné foto

Európska únia chce zatočiť s rakovinou. Komisia by dnes mala predstaviť plán, ako znížiť túto zákernú chorobu na minimum. Aj keď materiál ešte nebol oficiálne zverejnený, jeho časti už unikli.

Ako uviedol portál politico.eu, Brusel chce do roku 2040 zapracovať na tom, aby vznikla takzvaná beztabaková generácia.

To by malo v praxi znamenať, že počet fajčiarov by mal poklesnúť pod 5 percent z celkovej populácie. V súčasnosti je tento podiel u nás približne na úrovni 20 percent.

Originally published here.

Vaping is the gateway out of smoking

Recent trends framing e-cigarettes as a gateway to smoking do not stand up to scrutiny, write the Consumer Choice Center’s Maria Chaplia and World Vapers’ Alliance’s Michael Landl.

The innovative nature of vaping has contributed to its success and allowed it to quickly gain popularity among smokers. At the same time, because it is a novel technology, it has also been met with suspicion across the world – especially in the European Union.

Aside from targeting the harm-reduction nature of vaping, some of the recent criticism has also sought to frame vaping as a gateway to conventional smoking. However, that couldn’t be farther from the truth, and the longer the European Union continues to demonise vaping, the fewer smokers get a chance to switch to a safer and healthier alternative. We know enough about vaping to endorse it at EU level.

The newest Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) UK report states that “only 0.3 percent of never-smokers are current vapers (amounting to 2.9 percent of vapers)”. Therefore, a gateway effect to smoking is not reflected in the data and many studies show the opposite effect. For example, smoking rates in the UK – where public health authorities encourage vaping as a gateway out of smoking – are at an all-time low and there is no sign of vaping causing more smoking.

Moreover, countries that adopt harm reduction policies see better results in reducing smoking compared to more restrictive countries. One of the latter examples is Australia, which is very hostile to vaping. This hostility has consequences: the rate of decline of smoking rates is much slower compared to the United States or the UK which are more vaping friendly countries. Since 2013 when vaping became popular, the adult smoking rates have reduced significantly. In the UK, approximately 25 percent fewer people smoke today compared to 2013, while  the US has seen a 24 percent reduction. For the same period, Australia saw a decline of only 8 percent.

“Recent trends framing e-cigarettes as a gateway to smoking do not stand up to scrutiny. E-cigarettes are a gateway out of smoking”

The correlation between the introduction and the popularity of vaping and declining smoking rates suggests that vaping is an important innovation to help people quit smoking. The 2018 US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Report found that the smoking rate has decreased overall more rapidly since vaping became more prominent in the United States.

The landmark report on vaping’s potential to save lives was commissioned by Public Health England in 2015, providing evidence that vaping is 95 percent less harmful than combustible tobacco and has thus become a recommended means of quitting for smokers in the United Kingdom. FranceCanada and New Zealand followed their lead.

It is important to keep in mind that demand for cigarettes per se is inelastic, and measures such as advertising bans, plain packaging, and taxes have not proved to be effective in reducing smoking rates. Vaping, on the contrary, serves as a viable alternative that provides smokers with an opportunity to reduce health-associated risks and eventually quit smoking.

The effectiveness of e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation tool is undeniable as it targets smokers as opposed to non-smokers. Recent trends framing e-cigarettes as a gateway to smoking do not stand up to scrutiny. E-cigarettes are a gateway out of smoking. Anti-vaping measures are disastrous and detrimental to the health of smokers for whom vaping has become a life-saving tool. Policymakers must reconsider their approach to vaping. Despite many voices seeking to undermine vaping as a gateway out of smoking, the evidence is sound: vaping saves lives.

Originally published here.

EU crackdown on vaping is bad news for public health

The Beating Cancer Plan will make vaping harder.

The leaked Commission proposal for the EU’s Beating Cancer Plan has revealed the bloc’s plans to make harm reducing products such as vaping devices harder to access and consume in the European Union. Under this proposal, the EU would hike taxation rules on vaping products to match those of conventional cigarettes, treating those products as equivalent threats to human health.

This ignores existing public health research. As Public Health England has confirmed, vaping is 95% safer than conventional tobacco. Adding to that, vaping has consistently been shown to be an effective method of fuelling smoking cessation, i.e. helping those smokers who choose to quit, to do so. With such an innovation, the EU should rejoice in the existence of tobacco alternatives that offer a solution —- something policy-makers have not managed to achieve through brute policy for decades.

Increasing taxation levels will increase the price of vaping products, and give many smokers yet another reason not to quit, which would be terrible news for public health. In many EU member states, cigarette prices are at such high levels that they have already fueled the rise of black-market producers. A blanket tax hike can, therefore, produce one of two results: either it will fuel an equally sizable black market for vaping (which is currently a more economical solution for consumers than cigarettes in many countries), or it will lead many vapers returning to the more harmful option of smoking.

Another suggestion made by the European Commission is the phasing-out and eventual restriction of vape flavours. Vaping devices are known for their fancy flavour options, from traditional fruit flavours to more extravagant ones. Smokers switch to vaping precisely because of these flavour options. Phasing them out would reduce that incentive. 

Well-intended policy-makers believe this proposal would prevent teens from using these products. But vaping is, and remains, something that should only be used by informed adults. There may be examples of underaged people who have acquired vape devices and liquids, but this is far from the fault of responsible adult users and law-abiding retailers. Governments should impose harsher fines on retailers and other individuals who facilitate the sale of vapes to minors, yet recognise that vaping represents a real opportunity for adult users.

The Commission is also proposing to restrict vaping in public areas, similar to cigarettes. Here again, we should appeal to the common sense of vapers to behave responsibly and respectfully in public places, without needing to equate vaping with smoking. And without encroaching on member state jurisdiction. 

Creating more hurdles for smokers to switch to innovative vaping solutions is a step in the wrong direction — this EU proposal would actively destroy much of the healthier transition that former smokers have made in the last years.

Hopefully, the European Parliament will take a more nuanced point of view. Some parliamentarians have expressed the will to include vaping as a smoking cessation tool in the final proposal, and experts testifying in EP committees have underlined that this is based on scientific evidence. The Parliament now needs to put its foot down, and strongly oppose the Commission narrative on vaping.

Governments have tried for decades to get people off smoking and have had limited impact. The true innovations have arisen from market solutions like vaping.  Why not allow innovative solutions to be explored and endorsed, especially when government scientific agencies are confirming their safety? If it’s really about beating cancer, then let’s do it together, not against the science.

Originally published here.

Apakah Melarang Vape pada Masa Pandemi Merupakan Kebijakan yang Tepat?

Apakah Melarang Vape pada Masa Pandemi Merupakan Kebijakan yang Tepat?

Pandemi COVID-19 hingga saat ini masih menjadi permasalahan besar yang harus dihadapi oleh berbagai negara di seluruh dunia. Salah satu dampak dari hal tersebut adalah, perayaan tahun baru 2021 kemarin terasa sangat berbeda di berbagai kota-kota besar di banyak negara.

Tidak ada perayaan besar-besaran, pesta meriah, hingga kembang api yang mewarnai langit malam. Jutaan orang di seluruh dunia terpaksa harus tinggal di kediaman mereka, atau merayakan tahun baru di tempat yang tertutup, bersama orang-orang dekat mereka dalam jumlah yang kecil.

Untuk itu, penanganan dan pengentasan pandemi COVID-19, yang sudah memakan korban jiwa hingga lebih dari 2 juta orang di seluruh dunia, menjadi prioritas utama banyak pemerintahan di dunia. Berbagai pemerintahan di seluruh dunia mengambil berbagai langkah yang dianggap mampu untuk memitigasi dampak virus yang penyebarannya sangat mudah tersebut.Beragam kebijakan dilakukan oleh banyak pemerintahan di seluruh dunia untuk mengatasi dan memitigasi pandemi tersebut. Beberpaa kebijakan yang umum diambil oleh berbagai pemerintahan di dunia diantaranya adalah lockdown nasional untuk menutup seluruh fasilitas umum, sarana pendidikan, dan gedung perkantoran, menutup perbatasan, dan mewajibkan seluruh warga yang keluar rumah untuk mengenakan masker.

Selain itu, lockdown, menutup perbatasan, dan mewajibkan semua orang menggunakan masker bukan hanya kebijakan yang diambil oleh berbagai pemerintahan di dunia untuk memitigasi dampak dari pandemi COVID-19. Kebijakan lain yang juga dilakukan adalah melarang berbagai produk yang dianggap berpotensi meningkatkan dampak dari pandemi COVID-19. Salah produk yang menjadi sasaran dari kebijakan tersebut adalah rokok elektronik tertentu, yang juga dikenal dengan nama vape.

Di Amerika Serikat misalnya, pelarangan vape sebagai untuk memitigasi pandemi COVID-19 merupakan kebijakan yang dilakukan oleh beberapa pemerintahan di negara bagian dan juga kota memberlakukan pelarangan terhadap vape berperasa (salud-america.org, 18/09/2020). Lantas, apakah kebijakan tersebut merupakan sesuatu yang tepat? Berdasarkan penelitian yang dilakukan oleh berbagai lembaga kesehatan di seluruh dunia, rokok elektronik, atau vape, merupakan produk yang jauh lebih aman daripada rokok elektronik yang dibakar. Hasil penelitian yang dilakukan oleh lembaga kesehatan Pemerintah Inggris misalnya, Public Health England, menunjukkan bahwa vape atau rokok elektronik jauh lebih aman 95% dari rokok konvensional yang dibakar (Public Health England, 19/07/2015).

Tidak hanya itu, vape atau rokok elektronik juga terbukti dapat membantu jutaan perokok untuk berhenti merokok. Lembaga kesehatan Inggris, National Health Service misalnya, menyatakan bahwa rokok elektronik atau vape merupakan produk yang efektif untuk membantu seseorang berhenti dari kebiasaan merokoknya (National Health Service, 29/03/2019).

Hal ini tentu merupakan hal yang sangat positif. Adanya produk yang jauh lebih aman, yang dapat membantu seorang perokok untuk menghentikan kebiasaan merokoknya tentu adalah hal yang harus kita dukung dan apresiasi. Selain itu, pihak yang paling dirugikan apabila pelarangan vape diberlakukan adalah para perokok, di mana mereka tidak lagi bisa mendapatkan akses terhadap produk yang dapat membantu mereka berhenti merokok. Kebijakan tersebut membuat lebih banyak keburukan daripada manfaat (reason.org, 22/06/2020).

Selain itu, dampak unintended consequences yang dapat terjadi bila kebijakan tersebut diberlakukan adalah, bila vape dilarang, maka akan lebih banyak produk-produk vape ilegal yang sangat berbahaya bagi konsumen, karena tidak melalui proses regulasi oleh pemerintah. Hal ini tentu merupakan sesuatu yang sangat berbahaya. Bila produk ilegal vape membanjiri pasar, terlebih lagi pada masa pandemi seperti sekarang, maka akan lebih banyak orang-orang sakit, dan rumah sakit serta sarana kesehatan akan semakin sulit menampung mereka, karena sudah dipenuhi oleh para pasien COVID-19 (Newsday.com, 04/05/2020).

Dampak dari beredarnya vape ilegal terhadap kesehatan publik bukan sesuatu yang dapat kita abaikan begitu saja, dan sudah pernah terjadi di beberapa tempat, salah satunya di Amerika Serikat. Di negeri Paman Sam, pada tahun 2019, terjadi kasus orang-orang yang terkena penyakit dan gangguan pernafasan yang disebabkan oleh konsumsi produk-produk vape ilegal. Setidaknya ada 35 orang yang meninggal disebabkan karena konsumsi produk ilegal tersebut (The Washington Post, 26/10/2019).

Sebagai penutup, kebijakan pelarangan vape, apalagi di masa pandemi COVID-19, adalah sesuatu yang berbahaya. Kebijakan ini bukan hanya akan menghilangkan kesempatan bagi jutaan perokok untuk mengakses produk-produk yang dapat membantu mereka berhenti merokok, namun juga berpotensi akan meningkatkan produk-produk vape ilegal yang berbahaya bagi konsumen, yang akan semakin memberatkan sarana kesehatan yang sudah dibebani oleh banyaknya pasien COVID-19.

Originally published here.

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