The World Health Organization’s Executive Board is considering a number of items at its January meeting, one of which is Provisional Agenda item 22  EB148/47 regarding the Report of  the Tenth Meeting of the WHO Study Group on Tobacco Product Regulation. Only the Study Group’s recommendations have been published. The Study Group failed to provide not only the report itself, but also failed to disclose the experts and research it relied upon to make its recommendations. These lack of disclosures demonstrate a disturbing lack of transparency, especially troubling given that these recommendations will serve as the basis for many countries to effectively ban or dramatically reduce adult access to a wide variety of safer nicotine products.

INNCO submitted comments regarding the Study Group’s recommendations, although we note with some dismay that the lack of transparency made it impossible to respond in depth.

Among the Study Group’s recommendations is a call for ban on open-system products, which would have a devastating impact on the tens of millions of consumers who rely on these products to remain smoke-free, would destroy a multibillion dollar independent vapor industry (which is in competition with the tobacco industry), and would solidify the tobacco industry’s hold on the global nicotine market. In addition to criticizing the Study Group’s failure to disclose and lack of transparency, INNCO also called the Study Group to task for labeling tobacco harm reduction as a “distraction” instead of acknowledging the incredible promise these strategies hold when used as a complement to traditional tobacco control measures.

As INNCO explained to the WHO Executive Board, “These recommendations affect the lives of tens of millions of current [THR product] users, as well as lives of the hundreds of millions of people who currently smoke or use other high-risk forms of tobacco who may be denied effective access to lower-risk products as a result of the Study Group’s Report. Therefore, it is imperative that consumers have a voice in these deliberations that so intimately and profoundly impact our ability to improve and safeguard our health.”