Geneva, Switzerland, November 17, 2020 – The International Network of Nicotine Consumer Organisations (INNCO) today announced it has submitted comments to a recent research paper, titled, “Exploring the Twitter activity around the eighth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control,” published on November 11, 2020 in the Tobacco Control Journal.
The report, written by researchers from the University of Bath and funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies’ STOP initiative, suggests that the social media activity of INNCO and its member organisations were influenced by the tobacco industry regarding 2018’s WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).
In its response found here, INNCO points out the inaccuracies of the analysis as “attenuated,” noting that it “undermines the genuine consumer movement that INNCO and its members represent.”
“By encouraging governments, policymakers and others to view consumers and consumer groups as fronts for the tobacco industry, the authors disenfranchise an already unfairly marginalised group,” the submission stated. “We urge the authors to consider the ethical implications of nudging decisionmakers to dismiss the consumer voice.”
“INNCO was formed in large part to bring the consumer voice to the international level, including engaging with the FCTC,” said Samrat Chowdhery, president of INNCO’s governing board. “We are completely free from funding from either the vapor or tobacco industry. We question why the authors are intent in painting our desire to engage as legitimate stakeholders as something nefarious.
“Our members, as the paper notes, have no links with the tobacco industry, and it is completely erroneous to claim that they are influenced by any tobacco company,” Chowdhery continued. “These are autonomous, grassroots organisations with little or no funding that have been using social media more than a decade to engage with consumers on safe and effective tobacco health reform policies.”
Noting that consumers are aligned with the FCTC’s goals of mitigating tobacco-related death and disease, INNCO’s submission stated that “we reject prohibitionism and stigmatisation in favour of pragmatic, humane and ultimately more effective policies that recognise human rights and the agency of users to become proactive participants in improving their health.”
INNCO was formed in 2016 to represent consumers of low-risk, alternative nicotine products. The organization brings together the voices of more than 30 grassroots consumer organisations to promote Tobacco Harm Reduction (THR) on the global stage. THR is a public health policy that respects individual autonomy, empowers consumers to make safer choices, and offers pragmatic solutions to combating use of high-risk forms of tobacco.