Harm Reduction Campaign

Bahaya Pelarangan Vape di Negara Berkembang

Dunia saat ini masih terus berperang melawan pandemi COVID-19 yang muncul pada akhir tahun 2019 lalu. Sudah satu setengah tahun lamanya, virus yang sangat mudah menyebar antar manusia ini telah meluluh-lantahkan berbagai kegiatan, seperti acara musik dan perhelatan olahraga, serta keseharian miliaran orang di berbagai tempat di dunia.

Salah satu dampak yang paling terlihat dari munculnya pandemi ini adalah semakin banyaknya orang-orang yang sadar akan pentingnya kesehatan dan kebersihan. Semakin banyak dari kita yang menyadari bahwa mencuci tangan atau membersihkan badan setelah keluar rumah adalah sesuatu yang sangat penting untuk dilakukan agar terhindar dari segala macam penyakit, khususnya COVID-19.

Tidak hanya dari masyarakat, banyak pemerintahan di berbagai belahan dunia juga mulai mengkampanyekan gaya hidup sehat untuk mencegah penyebaran virus tersebut. Beberapa diantaranya yang kita kenal di Indonesia adalah gerakan 5M, yakni Memakai masker, mencuci tangan pakai sabun dan air mengalir, menjaga jarak, menjauhi kerumunan, serta membatasi mobilisasi dan interaksi (kesehatan.kontan.co.id, 26/1/2021).

Namun, berbagai upaya memperbaki kesehatan publik yang diadvokasikan oleh sebagian pihak guna mencegah penyebaran COVID-19 juga tidak hanya melalui kampanye, tetapi juga melalui pelarangan berbagai produk yang dianggap membahayakan kesehatan. Salah satunya produk yang kerap menjadi sasaran adalah produk-produk tembakau seperti rokok.

Salah satu negara yang memberlakukan pelarangan tersebut adalah Afrika Selatan. Pada tahun 2020 lalu misalnya, Afrika Selatan melarang pembelian produk-produk tembakau seperti rokok (bbc.com, 17/5/2020).

Akan tetapi, tidak hanya produk-produk rokok konvensional yang dibakar saja yang diadvokasi oleh beberapa pihak untuk dilarang. Salah satu produk lain yang diadvokasi oleh sebagian pihak untuk dilarang adalah produk-produk rokok elektronik, atau yang dikenal dengan nama vape, karena dianggap juga membahayakan kesehatan.

Salah satu pengusaha dan filantropi yang mengadvokasi kebijakan tersebut adalah pengusaha besar asal Amerika Serikat, Michael Bloomberg. Bloomberg telah meluncurkan inisiatif global untuk pengendalian tembakau sebesar USD1 miliar, atau sekitar 14 triliun rupiah.

Dampak dari inisiatif global yang dilancarkan oleh Bloomberg ini sudah muncul di berbagai negara, khususnya di negara-negara berkembang. Di Filipina misalnya, lembaga regulator kesehatan mulai mempresentasikan berbagai dokumen kebijakan tidak hanya melarang rokok, namun juga vape, di negara tersebutm setelah mendapatkan dana dari inisiatif global Bloomberg (brusselstimes.com, 18/3/2021).

Tidak hanya di Filipina, Meksiko juga mengalami kejadian yang serupa. Di Meksiko belum lama ini, terungkap bahwa salah satu staf pengacara dari lembaga advokasi kesehatan yang didanai oleh Bloomberg, yang bernama Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, telah menyusun undang-undang yang bertujuan untuk melarang impor dan penjualan produk-produk vape (brusselstimes.com, 18/3/2021).

Kebijakan ini tentunya merupakan sesuatu yang sangat memprihatinkan, khususnya di negara-negara berkembang. Pelarangan terhadap produk-produk vape atau rokok elektronik berarti akan semakin banyak orang yang beralih ke produk-produk rokok konvensional yang dibakar, atau produk-produk vape ilegal yang sangat berbahaya hingga dapat menimbulkan kematian.

Hal ini akan semakin berbahaya bila terjadi di negara-negara berkembang, apalagi pada masa pandemi, karena secara umum negara-negara tersebut tidak memiliki fasilitas layanan kesehatan yang baik. Bila produk-produk vape dilarang, terlebih lagi pada masa pendemi, maka akan semakin banyak orang yang beralih ke rokok konvensional yang dibakar, yang secara ilmiah sudah terbukti menyebabkan berbagai penyakit kronis seperti kanker dan penyakit jantung.

Vape atau rokok elektronik sudah terbukti merupakan produk yang jauh lebih aman bila dibandingkan dengan rokok konvensional yang dibakar. Pada tahun 2015 lalu, lembaga kesehatan Britania Raya, Public Health England (PHE), mengeluarkan laporan bahwa vape atau rokok elektronik merupakan produk yang 95% jauh lebih aman bila dibandingkan dengan rokok konvensional yang dibakar (Public Health England, 2015).

Oleh karena itu, kebijakan untuk memperbaiki kesehatan publik dengan cara melarang produk-produk vape atau rokok elektronik adalah kebijakan yang tidak tepat. Untuk memperbaiki kesehatan publik dari dampak negatif dari rokok konvensional, akan lebih efektif bila dengan membeirkan opsi produk lain yang lebih aman kepada para perokok.

Hal ini sudah terbukti di negara-negara di mana pemerintahnya bukan melarang produk-produk vape, namun justru mendorong para perokok untuk beralih ke produk-produk rokok elektronik yang jauh lebih aman. Di negara-negara tersebut, jumlah perokok justru menjadi berkurang. Di Selandia Baru misalnya, berdasarkan survei tahun 2018, ada 13,2% perokok. Jumlah tersebut berkurang dari tahun 2013 ketika angka perokok sejumlah 15,1% (stats.govt.nz, 10/10/2019).

Sebagai penutup, bila kita ingin membantu para perokok, khususnya di negara-negara berkembang yang jumlahnya sangat besar, maka kita harus mampu menyediakan produk alternatif yang dapat digunakan oleh para perkok untuk menghentikan kebiasaannya. Jangan sampai, intensi baik kita untuk memperbaiki kesehatan publik justru semakin menghasilkan sesuatu yang lebih buruk.

Originally published here.

The EU should commit to the concept of harm reduction

A few days ago, I came across a 2017 TEDMED talk on the harm reduction model of drug addiction by Dr Mark Tyndall.

Although mainly focused on drug addiction treatment, the speech provides a valuable insight into the nature of harm reduction that can be applied more generally. In particular, that concerns vaping as a cessation tool.

In the talk, Dr Tyndall argues that “starting with abstinence is like asking a new diabetic to quit sugar or a severe asthmatic to start running marathons or a depressed person to just be happy. For any other medical condition, we would never start with the most extreme option. What makes us think that strategy would work for something as complex as addiction?”

Taxes, marketing and advertising bans along with other restrictions on both tobacco and vaping products pursue a strategy of abstinence. Based on the assumption that smokers can quit overnight after they see a price increase, the reality is that such policies do nothing to reduce smoking rates. Advocates of such an approach point to the declining smoking rates as evidence of their success. However, the causation link is hardly traceable there because of multiple variables at play. 

Although smoking rates in tobacco in vaping restrictive countries such as Ireland, really are declining, it is hardly a reason for optimism. The downward trend in smoking prevalence is driven by people who are dying prematurely from smoking, according to Dr Tyndall. Vaping, on the contrary, could save those lives, and discouraging it is ignorant of consumers’ needs.

Blinded by their pursuit of smoke-free Europe, European policymakers are consistently missing the opportunity to actually help smokers quit. We at the Consumer Choice Center have stressed many times the data point that vaping is 95 percent less harmful than tobacco cigarettes and that it targets adult consumers who seek to quit smoking. E-cigarettes are an adult-only product and do not serve as a means to entice underage smoking. Although scientifically proved, these facts are overlooked by the EU. 

As such, the flawed belief that vaping contributes to rising underage smoking rates casts a shadow on harm reduction. It is also one of the main reasons underlying the proposed Dutch vape flavour ban. A 2017 study published in Tobacco Control found that as the number of vapers in the US and UK went up, there was no increase in youth smoking. Between 2011 and 2016, smoking in the past 30 days declined from 6.3 percent to 4.3 percent among middle school students and from 21.8 percent to 13.8 percent among high school students in the US.

Overregulation of vaping in the European Union and its member states won’t bring the expected results. Smokers should not be seen as children who have to be punished into abstinence for choosing to smoke. A much better way forward is to encourage them to switch to vaping thereby helping them reduce health associated risks. 

Before it’s too late, we should strongly commit to the concept of harm reduction. Now, that would really help us beat cancer.

Originally published here.

Why the Dutch vaping flavour ban won’t drive down underage smoking rates

Although noble in intent, the ban would have the opposite effect, argue the Consumer Choice Center’s Maria Chaplia and World Vapers Alliance’s Michael Landl.

Starting from 1 July 2022, flavoured e-liquids might be banned in the Netherlands. The decision to proceed with the ban – originally proposed in June 2020 – is drastically at odds with public opinion, let alone science. Combined with the EU Beating Cancer Plan’s restrictive anti-vaping measures, the flavour ban demonstrates Europe’s incessant drift away from evidence-based policymaking.

Vaping is facing such regulatory hardships primarily because it’s misunderstood. Invented as a cessation tool, vaping targets adult smokers, in particular heavy ones, to help them quit. In the UK, electronic cigarettes are even given to smokers at hospitals. And vape flavours play a crucial role in the crusade for lowering tobacco smoking rates.

The Dutch government’s reasoning for the vape flavour ban is to tackle teen smoking. As such, the goal is indeed noble since e-cigarettes should be adult-only products and strict age restrictions need to be enforced. However, if that is really the goal then the Dutch government is shooting in the wrong direction.

According to a recently published study by Yale School of Public Health, a San Francisco vape flavour ban doubled high school students’ probability of smoking conventional cigarettes. The California city saw a 30 percent increase in underage use of cigarettes for the first time in more than a decade, while other cities across the country continue to see declining rates.

“Without solving the teen smoking problem, the ban will have disastrous unintended consequences and undermine harm reduction efforts”

According to a 2017 study published in Tobacco Control, as the number of vapers in the US and UK went up, there was no increase in youth smoking. Between 2011 and 2016, smoking in the past 30 days declined from 6.3 percent to 4.3 percent among middle school students and from 21.8 percent to 13.8 percent among high school students in the US.

Without solving the teen smoking problem, the ban will have disastrous unintended consequences and undermine harm reduction efforts. In the Netherlands, 3.1 percent of adults use e-cigarettes, and, with the ban in place, nearly 260,000 Dutch vapers might return to smoking.

Flavours play a vital role for smokers who want to quit. Adult consumers, who have used vaping to quit smoking say that flavours, other than tobacco, were a decisive factor in preventing them from returning to smoking. By using flavoured e-liquids they are 230 percent more likely to quit smoking than if using tobacco-flavoured ones.

The proposed ban won’t drive down demand for flavours. What it will do, however, is boost illicit trade. As demonstrated by high taxes, marketing and advertising bans, and other restrictions across the board, restrictive policies do not achieve the desired outcomes. Despite a nicotine sales vaping ban in Australia, more than half a million consumers vape, while 2.4 million people have tried it at some point.

As demonstrated by Public Health England, vaping is 95 percent less harmful than tobacco cigarettes. Therefore, both in the short-and long-term, the Dutch vape flavour ban is too high of a price to pay, especially in light of our shared European efforts to reduce cancer rates.

“By using flavoured e-liquids they [adult smokers] are 230 percent more likely to quit smoking than if using tobacco-flavoured ones”

In light of the strong opposition expressed by citizens’ in the public consultation, with 98 percent of submissions opposing the ban, as well as the lack of legitimacy of this cabinet, the Dutch anti-vaping aspirations are completely unethical. This is a huge blow for tobacco harm reduction efforts and all the vapers who raised their voices, and it is likely to tarnish the reputation of the Netherlands.

Originally published here.

Tantangan Membela Hak Pengguna Vape

Isu mengenai rokok elektronik, atau yang dikenal juga dengan vape, merupakan salah satu isu yang cukup kontroversial di berbagai negara di dunia, termasuk juga di Indonesia. Berbagai pihak memiliki pandangan yang sangat kontras dan jauh berbeda antara satu dengan yang lainnya.

Bagi sebagian pihak, vape atau rokok elektronik adalah hal yang sangat berbahaya, dan maka dari itu harus dilarang demi melindungi kesehatan publik. Di Indonesia misalnya, salah satu pihak yang mendukung adanya larangan tersebut adalah Ikatan Dokter Indonesia, atau IDI. IDI mengungkapkan, vape justru mengandung zat-zat berbahaya bagi kesehatan (mediaindonesia.com, 25/9/2019).

Kesehatan publik tidak bisa dipungkiri memang merupakan masalah besar di berbagai negara di dunia. Bila suatu negara memiliki jumlah populasi masyarakat yang sakit dengan angka yang tinggi, hal ini juga akan semakin meningkatkan beban negara untuk membiayai program kesehatan tersebut. Belum lagi, orang-orang yang dapat menggunakan tenaga dan pikiran yang mereka miliki untuk kegiatan-kegiatan yang produktif akan semakin berkurang.

Namun, melindungi kesehatan publik tidak semudah membalikkan telapak tangan, salah satunya dengan hanya melarang produk-produk tertentu yang dianggap berbahaya. Ada unintended consequences yang harus kita pikirkan masak-masak bila kita ingin mengambil kebijakan tersebut.

Hanya karena kita melarang suatu produk yang dianggap bisa membahayakan kesehatan, bukan berarti lantas kita dapat menghalangi seseorang untuk mendapatkan produk tersebut. Selain itu, hal lain yang tidak kalah pentingnya adalah, bila ada produk serupa yang jauh lebih berbahaya beredar di pasar daripada produk yang ingin dilarang, maka larangan tersebut berpotensi tidak memiliki dampak apapun, dan justru dapat menjadi kebijakan yang kontra produktif.

Berdasarkan laporan lembaga kesehatan publik Inggris, Public Health England (PHE) misalnya, rokok elektronik atau vape memiliki dampak 95% jauh lebih tidak berbahaya dibandingkan dengan rokok konvensional yang dibakar. Secara ekspilist, bila dibandingkan dengan rokok konvensional, maka resiko dari menggunakan rokok elektronik sangat kecil (theguardian.com, 28/12/2018).

Sangat penting ditekankan dalam hal ini bahwa, laporan PHE tersebut bukan berarti menyatakan bahwa vape atau rokok elektronik adalah produk yang sepenuhnya aman. 95% jauh lebih tidak berbahaya dan sama sekali tidak berbahaya adalah dua hal yang sangat berbeda.

Tetapi, berdasarkan laporan dari PHE, bila dibandingkan dengan rokok konvensional yang dibakar, vape atau rokok elektronik jauh lebih aman. Dengan demikian, bila produk rokok elektronik dilarang, sementara rokok konvensional tetap dibolehkan, maka tentu aturan tersebut adalah sesuatu yang mengada-ada dan tidak akan memiliki dampak yang signifikan.

Tidak hanya itu, bila ada kebijakan pelarangan vape atau rokok elektronik, maka hal tersebut adalah bentuk pelanggaran hak terhadap seseorang untuk mendapatkan alternatif produk yang jauh lebih aman. Besar kemungkinan, mereka yang sebelumnya ingin mengkonsumsi produk vape, karena tidak bisa mendapatkan produk tersebut di pasar, bukannya justru mengurungkan keinginannya, tetapi justru beralih ke produk rokok konvensional yang jauh lebih berbahaya.

Inilah salah satu tantangan besar terkait dengan membela hak para pengguna vape di berbagai negara di dunia, salah satunya tentunya di Indonesia. Banyaknya kesalahpahaman terkait dengan vape atau legalisasi produk tersebut, merupakan salah satu penyebab dari potensi lahirnya berbagai aturan yang justru tidak produktif.

Hal ini diungkapkan juga oleh oleh Presiden World Vaper’s Alliance(WVA), Michael Landl. WVA sendiri merupakan organisasi internasional yang membela hak-hak para pengguna vape di seluruh dunia.

Dalam wawancara yang saya lakukan dengan Landl bulan Maret 2021 lalu, ia mengungkapkan bahwa banyaknya misinformasi dan “ideologi” anti vape yang berkembang di berbagai tempat merupakan tantangan terbesar dalam membela hak-hak pengguna vape di seluruh dunia, untuk mendapatkan produk yang relatif lebih aman. Hal ini merupakan hal yang tidak mudah, meskipun berdasarkan penelitian ilmiah vape merupakan produk yang jauh lebih aman dibandingkan dengan rokok konvensional (Landl, 2021).

Sebagai penutup, pentingnya legalisasi produk rokok elektronik bukan berarti mendukung bahwa seluruh anggota masyarakat untuk menggunakan rokok elektronik setiap hari. Hal ini adalah sesuatu yang penting, khususnya karena para perokok dapat menjadi terbantu untuk menghentikan kebiasaan mereka yang sangat berbahaya, dan beralih ke produk lain yang terbukti jauh lebih aman.

Efektifitas vape sebagai produk yang dapat membantu para perokok untuk menghentikan kebiasaan merokok mereka yang sangat berbahaya bagi kesehatan merupakan hal yang sudah terbukti di berbagai penelitian. National Health Service (NHS) Inggris misalnya, telah menyatakan bahwa menggunakan produk rokok elektronik dapat membantu para perokok untuk mengelola kecanduan mereka terhadap nikotin (nhs.uk, 29/3/2019).

Karena hak untuk mendapatkan kesempatan untuk menikmati kehidupan yang lebih sehat merupakan hak yang wajib dinikmati oleh setiap individu, dan harus dilindungi oleh pemerintah. Jangan sampai, karena ketidaktahuan, misinformasi, hingga idelogi yang kita miliki, kita merampas hak tersebut dari saudara-saudara kita.

Originally published here.

Canadian Cancer Society supports vape tax, as nearly one-third of Sask. teens vape daily

Canadian Cancer Society regional manager Angeline Webb says they support the 20 per cent provincial tax on vapour products.

She says price measures have been proven to reduce vaping among youth and adults.

“Currently, vaping products are quite affordable so we want to price kids out of the market.”

The provincial government says the additional cost will help “prevent vapour products from being attractive to youth and non-smokers.”

Health Canada research shows that 30 per cent of teens in Saskatchewan vape on a daily basis, according to Webb.

She says research from Health Canada and the U.S. Centre for Disease Control shows that teens who vape are three times more likely to start smoking.

In Saskatchewan, consumers currently pay six per cent GST and six per cent PST on vape products.

The province’s Bill 32 would add 14 percentage points to the price of vapour liquids, products and devices on Sept. 1, 2021.

The federal government is conducting research to support a ban on flavoured vape products sales in Canada – a move Webb says is supported by the Canadian Cancer Agency.

Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia have banned all flavoured e-liquids and vape products. Quebec and New Brunswick are also considering restrictions to flavoured vaping products.

“Flavoured vaping products are enticing to youth who try and continue to use vaping products because of the flavours,” said Webb. “People who use vape products are 30 per cent more likely to develop a serious respiratory illness.”

However, Kevin Tetz, co-owner and operator of Inspired Vapor Company, says vaping reduces the taxpayer healthcare burden by reducing smoking-related disease and death.

David Clement, North American affairs manager for Consumer Choice Center, a North American consumer advocacy group, agrees with Tetz.

Clement says Bill 32 will place higher costs on both nicotine and cannabis vape products for consumers.

“This is ultimately going to throw consumers under the bus, specifically adult consumers and smokers who use vape products as a means to switch away from smoking cigarettes,” said Clement.

Vape stores can’t sell to people under 18 years and stores are required to block their windows to prevent their products from being in public view.

Blaine Tetz, co-owner of Inspired Vapor Company says he smoked for over 30 years and tried to quit smoking using the nicotine patch, prescription drugs, hypnosis and will power. He was able to quit smoking in 2017 after he started vaping.

“I gradually worked my way out of smoking cigarettes until I didn’t want them anymore and the only reason I was able to do that was because I had a replacement for the nicotine,” said Tetz.

Tetz now owns and operates three vape shops in partnership with his son in Melfort, Prince Albert and Humboldt. He says he has over a thousand customers in his customer data base who have told their store they have been able to quit smoking with the help of vapes.

He says their stores sell many kinds of “vape juice,” some non-nicotine flavoured liquids to nicotine liquids of various concentrations.

Blaine Tetz says a flavour ban would “decimate the industry.”

There are no provincial laws against vaping inside, including bars, restaurants, hotels, etc. unless specified by the individual establishment.

Some municipal governments such as the City of Saskatoon have passed by laws restricting where people can vape.

Originally published here.

Nhìn nhận khách quan trước những chiến dịch chống thuốc lá điện tử

Các nhà khoa học trên thế giới đang có nhiều ý kiến trái chiều về quan điểm đối xử với thuốc lá điện tử. Tuy nhiên, mới đây, họ bắt đầu tỏ ra nghi ngờ mục đích và động cơ từ những nguồn tài trợ nước ngoài cho các cơ quan Chính phủ ở các quốc gia đang phát triển để hậu thuẫn việc ra chính sách bài trừ sản phẩm này.

Thậm chí, có nhà khoa học còn chỉ ra rằng các chiến dịch chống lại thuốc lá điện tử là một sai lầm nếu như các cơ quan y tế nhận tiền tài trợ để kiên trì phản đối bất chấp lý lẽ cũng như vận động hành lang các nhà lập pháp nói “không” theo ý của họ.

Trong một bài viết của mình đăng trên trang bách khoa về từ thiện Philanthropy (*), tác giả Marc Gunther cho biết vào tháng 9/2019, Michael Bloomberg, nhà từ thiện tỷ phú, và Matthew Myers, chủ tịch của Tổ chức phi lợi nhuận Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (Chiến dịch trẻ em không thuốc lá), đã công bố một chiến dịch kéo dài ba năm trị giá 160 triệu USD để chấm dứt những gì họ mô tả là dịch bệnh sử dụng thuốc lá điện tử ở trẻ em .

Tác giả nhận định chắc chắn là tổ chức từ thiện Bloomberg Philanthropies đã sử dụng tiền và ảnh hưởng của mình để hạn chế việc sử dụng vaping (một loại thuốc lá điện tử). Nhưng những người hoạt động trong nhiều thập kỷ để giảm tử vong do hút thuốc nói rằng chiến dịch chống thuốc lá điện tử đang diễn ra là sai lầm, không có cơ sở khoa học và có khả năng gây hại nhiều hơn lợi.

Còn tờ the Brussel Times (Bỉ) trong một bài viết của nhà báo Yaël Ossowski (**) cho rằng bất chấp sự xuất hiện của một giải pháp hút thuốc có công nghệ hiện đại và ít gây hại hơn, một tổ chức được tài trợ đã nỗ lực để cấm hoàn toàn vaping bằng cách tham gia soạn thảo một loạt các dự thảo luật, tặng quà cho các cơ quan y tế cho các chiến dịch vận động hành lang. Điều này đã được hỗ trợ bởi sáng kiến toàn cầu có tổng trị giá 1 tỷ USD của tỷ phú Michael Bloomberg về kiểm soát thuốc lá.

Tại Philippines, một cuộc điều tra liên bang cho thấy các cơ quan quản lý y tế đã nhận hàng trăm nghìn đô la từ một tổ chức từ thiện liên kết với Bloomberg trước khi họ đưa ra dự thảo luật cấm các thiết bị vaping. Các đại diện của Quốc hội nói rằng luật được trình bày không có gì phải bàn cãi và chỉ được đưa ra sau khi Cơ quan Quản lý Thực phẩm & Dược phẩm nhận được khoản tài trợ lớn.

Ở Mexico, một luật sư của “Chiến dịch trẻ em không thuốc lá”, một trong những nhóm kiểm soát thuốc lá lớn nhất toàn cầu do Bloomberg Philanthropies tài trợ, đã soạn thảo luật hạn chế nghiêm ngặt việc nhập khẩu và bán thiết bị vaping. Người ta cáo buộc rằng Carmen Medel, Chủ tịch Ủy ban sức khỏe của Hạ viện Mexico, đã ký hợp đồng với tổ chức từ thiện này để “tư vấn” về luật, nhưng cuối cùng lại đệ trình một dự thảo luật vẫn có tên của vị luật sư của tổ chức này.

Điều này được kết hợp bởi các cuộc điều tra liên tục về ảnh hưởng của các tổ chức phi chính phủ nước ngoài đối với các chính sách tương tự ở Ấn Độ, nơi Thủ tướng Narendra Modi đã quyết định cắt đứt quan hệ với tổ chức từ thiện Bloomberg sau khi các cơ quan tình báo trong nước của ông đưa ra lo ngại.

Nhà báo Yaël Ossowski cho rằng: “Thật không may, mặc dù hoạt động từ thiện của Michael Bloomberg có ý nghĩa quan trọng và có mục đích tốt, nhưng các nhóm nhận số tiền đó để kiểm soát thuốc lá đã mắc phải sai lầm chết người khi đánh đồng thuốc lá điện tử với thuốc lá truyền thống. Và điều đó sẽ gây tổn hại đến sức khỏe toàn cầu trên quy mô lớn”.

Trong khi đó, giáo sư Kenneth Warner quan tâm đến việc kiểm soát thuốc lá. Ông là một thành viên ban sáng lập của Truth Initiative – tổ chức y tế công cộng phi lợi nhuận cam kết chấm dứt sử dụng thuốc lá. Ông Warner cũng là chủ tịch của Hiệp hội Nghiên cứu về Nicotine và Thuốc lá, biên tập viên khoa học cấp cao của báo cáo kỷ niệm 25 năm của Surgeon General về hút thuốc và sức khỏe, và là hiệu trưởng của Trường Y tế Công cộng của Đại học Michigan.

Ông nói: “Michael Bloomberg đã làm những điều tuyệt vời cho sức khỏe cộng đồng. Nhưng về vấn đề này (tác hại thuốc lá điện tử có thể gây tử vong), ông ấy có phần đi quá đà”. Bài viết cũng cho rằng những nhà khoa học khác của phong trào kiểm soát thuốc lá cũng chia sẻ quan điểm này.

Trong khi đó, theo lập luận của các nhà phê bình, trong khi thuốc lá điện tử và thuốc lá điếu truyền thống đều chứa nicotine, một chất kích thích hóa học gây nghiện có nguồn gốc từ thuốc lá, thuốc lá điện tử ít nguy hiểm hơn nhiều so với hút thuốc lá. 

Trong bài báo khoa học “Bằng chứng, báo động và tranh luận về thuốc lá điện tử”, năm chuyên gia y tế công cộng khẳng định rằng việc hạn chế tiếp cập vào các sản phẩm thuốc lá điện tử trong khi vẫn để thuốc lá truyền thống có tác hại hơn trên thị trường là sai lầm. Các tác giả bao gồm Cheryl Healton, cựu giám đốc điều hành của Truth Initiative, là hiệu trưởng của trường y tế công cộng thuộc Đại học New York, cũng như các trưởng khoa y tế công cộng tại các trường đại học Bang Ohio và Emory.

Điểm chung của các văn bản luật của các tổ chức nhận được tài trợ biên soạn đều đề xuất cấm nhập khẩu các sản phẩm thuốc lá thế hệ mới vì cho rằng các sản phẩm này độc hại không kém gì thuốc lá điếu.

Trong khi đó, các nhà khoa học đang chứng minh điều ngược lại. Giáo sư John Newton, Giám đốc về Cải thiện Y tế, Y tế Công cộng Anh còn cho rằng, thuốc lá điện tử (vaping) là một trong những công cụ hỗ trợ cai nghiện hiệu quả nhất hiện nay, giúp khoảng 50.000 người bỏ thuốc lá mỗi năm. Châu Âu đã trở thành một trong những thị trường ủng hộ thuốc lá thế hệ mới và có chính sách quản lý thuốc lá thế hệ mới “dễ thở” hơn so với thuốc lá truyền thống.  

Originally published here.

Rights4Vapers is Disappointed in Juul’s Decision to Abandon Adult Vapers

Juul Labs Canada has put its bottom line and relationship with the federal government ahead of the needs of its consumers by pulling out of the Vaping Industry Trade Association of Canada (VITA) and abandoning the fight to maintain a wide variety of flavours for adult vapers.

Vapers from across the country have told us that they wouldn’t be vaping today without flavours.

“By giving up on flavours, Juul has clearly demonstrated that adult consumers are less important to them than their desire to cozy up to the federal government,” said Maria Papaioannoy, spokesperson for Rights4Vapers, Canada’s leading vapers consumers’ rights movement. “My heart breaks for the millions of adult vapers who look to Juul as a leader in the industry. These Canadians have been deceived by Big Vape.”

Rights4Vapers believes that flavours are an important component to the vaping experience for adult smokers. Flavours help smokers migrate from traditional cigarettes to vapour products.

“Vapers from across the country have told us that they wouldn’t be vaping today without flavours. They want something that doesn’t remind them of cigarettes and the taste of tobacco. Many will go straight back to smoking if flavours are banned nationally. Or they will go to the black market for their products. We’ve already seen it on a small scale in Nova Scotia,” said Ms. Papaioannoy.

Nova Scotia’s vapers have two choices, they can either find the flavours they want on the black market or they can go back to smoking. The regulations in Nova Scotiawent too far and have turned vapers back to smokers. “A recent survey shows more people may be going back to regular, combustible cigarettes. The poll by Abacus Data shows about 29 percent of the vaping population in Nova Scotia is at risk of switching to cigarettes.”

Other jurisdictions that have banned flavours have seen similar results. The Consumer Choice Center observes that “investigations in the states of New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts have already shown that a booming black market has emerged in response to flavor bans.”

“To be clear, Rights4Vapers does not believe minors should vape, have access to vapour products or be sold these products. There are many laws already on the books to stop the sale of vapour products to minors. Let’s enforce them and stop punishing adult smokers by denying them a product that may help save their lives,” said Ms. Papaioannoy.

But do not take our word for it. In 2019, Parliament conducted hearings on amendments to the Tobacco Act (Bill S5). Experts told the federal government that flavoured vapour products are important. It’s time that the government listens. See link to a compilation video.

Originally published here.

Kebijakan Vape dan Peran Pemerintah yang Ideal

Isu mengenai rokok elektronik, atau yang dikenal juga dengan istilah vape, saat ini merupakan hal yang kerap menimbulkan pro dan kontra di berbagai negara di dunia. Berbagai pihak memiliki pandangan yang berbeda tentang bagaimana kita menyikapi produk-produk rokok elektronik tersebut.

Sebagian pihak, ada yang menganggap bahwa vape atau rokok elektronik adalah produk yang sangat berbahaya bagi kesehatan. Vape dilihat sebagai produk yang memiliki dampak tidak jauh berbeda dengan rokok konvensional yang dibakar pada umumnya, dan dapat menimbulkan berbagai penyakit kronis seperti kanker.Oleh karena itu, mereka yang memiliki pandangan vape sebagai produk yang sangat berbahaya umumnya akan mengadvokasi pemerintah untuk melarang seluruh produk tersebut. Hal ini dianggap sangat penting dilakukan untuk mencegah dampak yang berbahaya dari rokok elektronik terhadap kesehatan masyarakat.Di Indonesia misalnya, pandangan ini diungkapkan oleh Ikatan Dokter Indonesia (IDI). IDI menyatakan bahwa vape adalah produk yang sangat berbahaya bagi kesehatan, dan oleh karena itu harus dilarang oleh pemerintah (cnnindonesia.com, 14/9/2019).

Di sisi lain, ada juga yang memiliki pandangan bahwa vape merupakan produk yang relatif aman, atau setidaknya tidak seberbahaya rokok konvensional yang dibakar. Untuk itu, bila pemerintah melarang produk rokok eletronik, kebijakan tersebut merupakan sesuatu yang tidak tepat.Lantas, diantara opsi tersebut, apakah peran ideal pemerintah terkait dengan produk-produk rokok elektronik?

Kenyataannya, pandangan bahwa rokok elektronik merupakan produk yang sama berbahayanya dengan rokok konvensional adalah pandangan yang keliru. Hal ini dikonfirmasi oleh lembaga kesehatan Inggris, National Health Service (NHS), bahwa vape 95% lebih aman dibandingkan dengan rokok konvensional yang dibakar (Public Health England, 2015).

Namun, bukan berarti lantas pemerintah berarti bisa lepas tangan begitu saja dan tidak membuat kerangka kebijakan apapun untuk meregulasi produk-produk rokok elektronik. Pilihan opsi antara prohibisi dan pasar vape yang secara total tidak diregulasi bukanlah hanya opsi yang dapat kita pilih. Masih ada opsi ketiga yang bisa kita ambil, yakni kebijakan regulasi yang tepat.Direktur organisasi internasional pegiat hak pengguna vape, World Vaper’s Alliance (WVA), Michael Landl, dalam wawancara yang saya lakukan bulan lalu, memaparkan mengenai kebijakan regulasi yang tepat terkait dengan produk-produk rokok elektronik. Landl mengatakan bahwa regulasi merupakan hal yang sangat penting untuk memastikan adanya keamanan produk dan standar kualitas produk-produk yang beredar di pasar (Landl, 2021).

Selain itu, sangat penting juga bagi pemerintah untuk membuat kebijakan yang mendorong perokok untuk berpindah ke produk alternatif yang lebih aman. Yang menyedihkan, ungkap Landl, bahwa hanya ada sedikit pemerintah yang mengambil langkah tersebut. Kebanyakan pemerintah mengambil langkah paternalistik melalui pelarangan yang didukung oleh berbagai kelompok kepentingan. Landl mengingatkan bahwa kebijakan prohibisi merupakan sesuatu yang niscaya akan gagal dan tidak akan dapat mencapai tujuannya (Landl, 2021).

Absennya pemerintah untuk meregulasi produk-produk tertentu, seperti vape, tentu tidak akan menghasilkan dampak yang positif. Tidak adanya standar kualitas dan standar keamanan bagi produk-produk vape merupakan kebijakan yang sangat berbahaya bagi konsumer.Bila pemerintah tidak membuat standar kualitas dan keamanan bagi produk-produk vape, maka bukan tidak mustahil, berbagai produk-produk yang sangat berbahaya akan beredar di pasar. Hal ini bukan hanya aka menyebabkan masalah kesehatan bagi konsumen, namun juga berpotensi besar menyebabkan hilangnya nyawa.

Pada tahun 2019 lalu misalnya, aparat keamanan di negara bagian Wisconsin, Amerika Serikat, menangkap dua orang kakak beradik yang menjalankan bisnis vape illegal yang mengandung bahan THC yang sangat berbahaya. Produk-produk yang dijual oleh mereka tersebut telah menyebabkan banyak orang dilarikan ke rumah sakit hingga mengalami kematian (abcnews.go.com, 13/9/2019).Untuk itu, regulasi pemerintah sangat penting untuk mencegah agar produk-produk tersebut tidak beredar di pasar dan dibeli oleh konsumen. Namun, kebijakan prohibisi total juga akan sama berbahayanya karena berarti para konsumen akan tidak bisa mendapatkan akses untuk membeli produk-produk vape yang legal. Dengan demikian, para perokok akan semakin sulit mencari produk alternatif untuk membantunya menghentikan kebiasaan merokoknya, dan bukan tidak mungkin juga akan ada konsumen beralih ke produk-produk ilegal yang sangat berbahaya.

Sebagai penutup, prohibisi total dan kebijakan lepas tangan untuk meregulasi produk-produk tertentu, seperti rokok elektronik, bukanlah hanya kedua opsi yang dimiliki oleh para pembuat kebijakan. Keduanya merupakan opsi yang sangat berbahaya yang akan membahayakan kesehatan konsumen.Regulasi yang tepat, yang memastikan produk-produk berbahaya tidak beredar ke pasar, dan membuat kebijakan yang mendorong perokok untuk berpindah ke produk alternatif yang lebih aman, merupakan pendekatan yang paling tepat. Dengan demikian, para perokok akan mendapatkan akses ke produk alternatif yang dapat membantu mereka menghentikan kebiasaan merokoknya, dan hak konsumen untuk mendapatkan produk yang aman di pasar juga dapat terjaga.

Originally published here.

Switching From Smoking To Vaping Could Save Thousands Of Lives, Report Finds

Report claims over half a million Malaysians smokers would switch if vaping is promoted as a harm reduced alternative.

An international consumer group has called for a “rethink” of approaches to vaping, saying regulations that facilitate it as a means to help people quit smoking could save thousands of lives.

The Consumer Choice Center (CCC) made this call in a report it published with the World Vaping Alliance (WVA) titled “From Smoking to Vaping – Lives Saved”.

The report analysed data on smoking and vaping from 61 countries and assessed how many smokers could potentially switch to vaping if the regulations encouraged vaping as a means to quit smoking.

The researchers looked to the United Kingdom to establish a “switching rate” because of the rate at which smoking decreased while vaping increased in the UK.

In the UK, people are “actively” encouraged to switch to vaping, and the country has seen a 25% reduction in smokers since 2013 when vaping became a key asset for the UK health agencies to urge smokers to quit smoking.

In the same period, Australia, which has one of the toughest vaping regulations saw a decline in smoking of only 8%.

The report estimates that if the right regulations were in place, around 196 million smokers in the 61 countries could switch to vaping, an alternative the two organisations say is 95% less harmful than cigarettes.

In the case of Malaysia, the report cited that the country could see well over half a million smokers in this country would make the switch if vaping is promoted as a harm reduced alternative for smokers.

A growing number of studies are pointing to the effectiveness of tobacco harm reduction (THR) measures including safer alternatives to cigarettes, to help smokers kick the habit.

A recent review of studies by Public Health England, an executive agency of the UK’s Health and Social Care Department found “stronger evidence” that nicotine vaping products are effective for smoking cessation and reduction.

This was in comparison to its 2018 review of studies which found that “tens of thousands” stopped smoking as a result of vaping in 2017 alone.

In “From Smoking To Vaping – Lives Saved”, the report notes that vaping has been recognised as one of the most effective tools to help smokers quit and this has been endorsed by health authorities in several countries including the UK, France, Canada, and New Zealand.

CCC Managing Director Fred Roeder said about the report, “Smart rules on advertising e-cigarettes to smokers, displaying e-cigarettes at the point of sale for cigarettes, lower rates of taxation for e-cigarettes, and public health bodies endorsing the evidence of vaping being at least 95% less harmful than traditional smoking, everything that the UK has done right, can help save the lives of thousands of smokers by helping them switch to vaping.”

WVA Director Michael Landl meanwhile said the report highlights the significant potential of the benefits of switching from smoking to vaping.

While the benefits of vaping as an alternative to smoking have been known for some time, the research shows just how significant the potential is: almost 200 million lives saved. If COVID has shown us anything, it’s that our health is paramount and regulators that want people to quit smoking need to be led by science and ensure that ideology takes a back seat to pragmatism.

World Vapers Association (WVA) Director, Michael Land

Originally published here.

‘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.

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