Vaping gaining ground around the world with over 100m embracing it

Nicotine vaping is reportedly gaining ground with latest statistics indicating that over 100 million people are using vaping products worldwide.

This development has given hope to ardent advocates of tobacco harm reduction.

In her contribution to the GFN.TV Commentary on the 16th of June 2022, Executive Coordinator for the Coalition of Asia Pacific Harm Reduction Advocates (CAPHRA), Nancy Loucas, while attributing the rise in numbers of people going for vaping, said the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic has contributed to the success of their campaign.

Executive Coordinator CAPHRA), Nancy Loucas

“It does feel that we are here for good and a lot of it, from me, has to do with things that are happening in the Pacific Region. Pre-Covid, I never would have imagined that we would be sitting here with the Philippines pending, Malaysia going legal on the 3rd of August and possibly with Thailand, actually having regulations. That was the furthest thing from my mind,” said Loucas, who was also the third keynote speaker at the Global Forum on Nicotine 2022 (GFN22).

“I do believe it’s here for good. The advocates are passionate about what they are doing. One of the benefits of Covid is that because we could not get together physically (you know advocacy can take a very long time), the internet has allowed us to get together virtually more often than we would have in person to collaborate and engage with each other. I think that is one of the blessings of Covid and I think that is also helping to make sure that tobacco harm reduction is successful,” she added.

This year’s forum was held under the theme “Here for good!”

Loucas accused The World Health Organization (WHO) and its experts of mishandling Covid management.

“It’s a sad reality. I think the WHO and its experts have lost a lot of their shine by the way they have handled the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Loucas.

She, however, disclosed that the mishandling of the Covid-19 pandemic by the global health body is helping them to make inroads in their campaign for adoption and promotion of vaping.

“It’s helping us in a very strange kind of way and is producing an opportunity. And absolutely, we will take it! Like I said, Covid has brought people together and governments were relying on the advice of these experts to deal with this pandemic which has been completely mishandled,” she said.

Another panellist, Karl Fagerstrom – a Swedish clinical psychologist – observed that majority of the people do not have the social capital to voice out their views and opinions on the matter.

Fagerstrom added that there is no scientific or political capital to win the battle; hence, they have given up the fight.

“Even the Tobacco Free Foundation money, which very few have access to, has a very close relationship with the tobacco industry in that they actually give their money from the very beginning in order to influence certain things.

“So, in essence, why it is so difficult for many to stand up? It’s simply because there is no social capital for it, there is no scientific capital to win, there is no political influence to win. It’s almost always a loss unless you are in a group and there is support,” he said.

He suspected that majority of the officials at WHO believe that nicotine is a drug and that nicotine is not essential for life; hence, the world does not need it.

Fagerstrom warned that this approach would make harm reduction more difficult and take longer for countries to get rid of nicotine. 

“They have a very idealistic view of what life is here on earth. Paradise has not occurred here; at least, not the way I see it. And tobacco, alcohol and caffeine have been the most common targets. 

“What we see in countries, and particularly in the United States with the legalization of marijuana and cannabis, is the use of drugs goes up and the habit of smoking goes down. It’s as if there is a transfer from one substance to another.

“So, you probably can get rid of one drug and control it if you introduce another one. But is that really what we want? And if would have to choose between smoking between 15 to 20 cigarettes a day and having one or two joints of marijuana a day, there may not be a big difference in harm,” he explained. 

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