China's Mastery Of The Most Innovative E-Cigarette Technology Is The Key To Global Tobacco Control

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Recently, Derek Yach, former Deputy Director General of the World Health Organization, pointed out in his speech that the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), which does not focus on harm-reducing products, is outdated and should be revised as soon as possible. He mentioned that the WHO should pay special attention to the key role of Chinese regulators in the global tobacco control cause, because China has the most innovative e-cigarette and related technology companies in the world.

Derek Yach organized the drafting of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in 1998. But years of practice have shown that many of these regulations do not apply to countries with high smoking rates and large populations. According to WHO data, there will be 1.27 billion smokers in the world by 2025, which he believes is a sign of failure in tobacco control.

"Now, China holds the key to the comprehensive transformation of the global tobacco industry." Derek Yach checked the examination data of Chinese patent applications and found that tobacco harm reduction is one of the fields with the most patent applications, and most patents are related to e-cigarettes. At the same time, China also has the most innovative e-cigarette and related technology companies in the world. However, regulatory authorities have not paid much attention to it, resulting in slow progress in tobacco harm reduction in China.

At present, more than 50% of the world's cigarettes are sold in China, and the proportion is still growing. In December 2022, the international authoritative medical journal 《The Lancet》published a paper stating that nearly 20% of Chinese adult males died from cigarettes. "Most Chinese male smokers start smoking before the age of 20, and unless they stop smoking, about half of them will eventually die from smoking," said Li Liming, a professor at Peking University.

Derek Yach said: "Two years ago, many countries announced the goal of 'fully electrifying new car sales by 2035', imagine how many smokers would be saved if similar commitments and policy support were made for tobacco harm reduction products , how much energy would be generated."

Not only China, but also the WHO needs to make changes. To effectively control tobacco, it is imperative to revise the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. The problem is that WHO's tobacco control leadership also refuses to embrace industry innovation. "They always think the tobacco industry is a dirty traditional industry, and they never reflect on it. Even if there is evidence that they are wrong, they will never change."

Many tobacco and e-cigarette companies around the world are making every effort to promote harm reduction research. WHO believes that the innovations of these companies cannot be trusted. This is interference, a trick, and the greatest threat to tobacco control. With this serious prejudice, WHO refused to accept the recommendations of the scientific teams of tobacco and e-cigarette companies, and even refused them to participate in the meeting.

"How can we revolutionize an industry without involving the corporate scientists who are on the front lines? Energy, food, pharmaceuticals... no other industry will tolerate this behavior. Encouraging governments to ban harm-reduced products is even more unacceptable ’ said Derek Yach.

He believes that the industry is heading towards a whole new world. There, nicotine is completely unbound from tobacco, which can help people resist aging and reduce the incidence of various diseases; harm reduction products such as electronic cigarettes can fully play their role and save millions of smokers. "Technical innovation led by tobacco and e-cigarette companies is the fastest way to achieve progress in tobacco control. It is time for WHO to recognize this. There is no shame in admitting that e-cigarettes reduce harm. Now is the best time to revise the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

Derek Yach made several suggestions for revision, including highlighting the key role of China's regulatory authorities; correcting the prejudice that "tobacco and e-cigarette companies are incompatible with tobacco control"; explicitly including "harm reduction" in the tobacco control plan; cleaning up rumors such as "nicotine causes cancer"; inviting the British government, the US FDA and other institutions that recognize the harm reduction of e-cigarettes and have made progress in tobacco control to share their experience.

"It's certainly much easier to follow the status quo, but now is the time for us to really move forward for global health."