Tuesday 26 September 2017

North Korea: Tobacco Control's Latest Role Model

Remember this picture of WHO Director General Margaret Chan a few years ago?

DG of the WHO Margaret Chan, all of a flutter in Moscow 2014
She was holding court with Vladimir Putin during the FCTC's bash in 2014 about the time the country was persecuting gays and shooting down passenger planes. She should have been in Manila doing something about the Ebola outbreak but decided taking tea with Putin, encouraging pointless plain packaging and trying to ban e-cigs globally was more important.

But consorting with dodgy countries is a bit of a thing for tobacco controllers. Who can forget this tweet by Chan's replacement before the COP7 meeting in India, congratulating Philippines dictator and advocate of mass murder (7,000 and counting), Rodrigo Duterte?

I've written before about how the FCTC does very much love a dictatorship so, including countries like Zimbabwe and Turkmenistan which boast shameful human rights records; they also said Syria should prioritise plain packaging of cigarettes because it is presumably far more important than worrying about a horrific death at the hands of ISIS; and last year Guido published a picture of FCTC delegates all smiles on a Maldives beach treating delegates from North Korea and Burma amongst others.

However, this week they have excelled themselves. Jagdish Kaur, South-East Asia Regional Advisor to the World Health Organization - and persistently insane anti-vaping prohibitionist - says that not only should North Korea be accepted into their grand world tour of dictatorship's greatest hits, the rest of the free world should also take their lead!
Electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) are being marketed to tobacco smokers for use in places where smoking is not allowed or as aids similar to pharmaceutical nicotine products to help cigarette smokers quit tobacco use. These are often flavored to make them more attractive for youth – ENDS use may lead young nonsmokers to take up tobacco products. Neither safety nor efficacy as a cessation aid of ENDS has been scientifically demonstrated. The adverse health effects of secondhand aerosol cannot be ruled out. Weak regulation of these products might contribute to the expansion of the ENDS market – in which tobacco companies have a substantial stake – potentially renormalizing smoking habits and negating years of intense tobacco control campaigning. The current situation calls for galvanizing policy makers to gear up to this challenge in the Southeast Asia Region (SEAR) where the high burden of tobacco use is compounded by large proportion of young vulnerable population and limited established tobacco cessation facilities. Banning ENDS in the SEAR seems to be the most plausible approach at present. In the SEAR, Timor-Leste, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, and Thailand have taken the lead in banning these products. The other countries of the SEAR should follow suit.
Where would the tobacco control industry be without these evil dictatorships, eh? It's lucky their PR gurus have never encountered one they didn't like, isn't it?

But then, anti-nicotine mouth-frothers are such fine, upstanding, decent people, don't you find?
No, me neither. 

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