Letter to the Spanish Minister of Health from the Tobacco Control Community

In response to the open letter that pro-vaping organizations, with suspicious relations to the tobacco industry, sent to the new Minister of Health requesting to include vaping products in her policy as a strategy to end the tobacco epidemic, Nofumadores.org, with the support of 12 other Health, Patient and Human Rights organizations, has sent a letter to the Minister of Health, Ms. Mónica García Gómez, explaining the conflict of interest of these organizations and the false ‘harm reduction’ narrative used by the tobacco industry to interfere with countries’ public health policies.

The World Vapers Alliance, an organization claiming to advocate for electronic cigarettes, has come under scrutiny due to its ties with the tobacco industry. As revealed by the University of Bath, the WVA is associated with the Consumer Choice Center (CCC), which, in turn, receives funding from major tobacco companies, including British American Tobacco (BAT). This connection raises concerns about the independence and credibility of the WVA in discussions surrounding tobacco control.

The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control emphasizes the need for policies to act independently of commercial interests. The WVA’s links to the tobacco industry are in direct contradiction to this principle, suggesting a potential conflict of interest in shaping tobacco-related policies.

Tobacco Industry’s change in narative

In response to stricter tobacco control measures, the tobacco industry has turned to alternative products like electronic cigarettes. Despite claims of being 95% safer, the safety evidence for these alternatives remains questionable. The industry’s aggressive marketing not only aims to maintain market share but also poses a risk to public health by endorsing potentially harmful products. The industry promotes the concept of tobacco harm reduction, but a closer examination reveals that it primarily serves its interests and doesn’t align with public health criteria. Instead of addressing behavioral aspects of risk, the industry advocates for substituting one nicotine product for another, a strategy lacking a solid foundation in public health principles.

In Spain, the unregulated landscape surrounding emerging tobacco-related products poses a significant threat to public health. These products attract an increasing number of consumers, especially among the youth, leading to nicotine addiction from a young age.

Key Concerns and Evidence

  1. Market Expansion Over Replacement: The Tobacco Industry aims to expand its market rather than replace it.
  2. Historical Manipulation: Past strategies, like the “Sunrise Project,” aimed at weakening tobacco control movements and manipulating public opinion.
  3. International Influence: Efforts to create a “harm reduction” health lobby, contributing to confusion within the scientific community.
  4. Scientific Doubt: Scientific reviews highlighting the weak quality and conflicts of interest in studies favoring e-cigarettes for smoking cessation.

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