Delon Human’s FCTC COP10 Insights – Day 3
COP10 reached its halfway stage, with an interesting tension developing between two trends – some at COP10 arguing for more (unproven) extreme tobacco control measures, such as ‘denicotinisation’, filter prohibition and tobacco generational bans. Another group of pragmatists asking for a more thoughtful examination of harm reduction strategies already employed by several of the FCTC parties, such as Sweden, United Kingdom and Japan.
Article 1(d) of the FCTC clearly identifies “harm reduction strategies” as part of tobacco control, yet this potential tool has never been elaborated or debated during the 19 years of the FCTC’s existence. There is compelling real world data and real world science available in Sweden to show how smoking prevalence has decreased to 5,6%. Meanwhile in Japan, 30-50 % of cigarette smokers have either partially or fully switched to non-combustible heated tobacco products in less than 5 years. New Zealand and the United Kingdom have recognised e-cigarettes as tools for smoking cessation and are increasingly showing the net public health benefits of this strategy, to prevent and control tobacco-related disease, disability and premature death.
Back to COP10, if this debate is evolving towards the harm reduction-friendly pragmatists and extreme tobacco control ideologues, then the voices of the multitude of stakeholders on the sideline should also be taken into account. The United Nations clearly states that tobacco-related non-communicable disease can only successfully be prevented and controlled by multi-stakeholder engagement and multi-sector action. Whole-of-government and whole-of-society solutions are the only way. Hopefully the COP10 delegates will understand the gravity of their responsibility.