Turkey’s government had previously decided to start allowing e-cigarettes in their country, but after a so-called “strong public reaction,” they’ve chosen to keep the massive bans in place
Turkey has consistently been one of the harsher countries when it comes to vaping regulations. But for the first time, there was legitimate hope that they would begin to allow vaping within their borders as Philip Morris International had discussed plans to work with the government to start introducing heat not burn products and e-cigarettes. After initially being somewhat open to the possibility, the Turkish government suddenly shifted their optimism into condemnation.
According to a World Health Organization press release, the decision was made due to an intense public outcry against allowing vaping, though they did not cite any evidence. The lack of evidence has some critics questioning the real motives and role of the WHO in this whole matter. The press release went on to praise Turkey for its stance, calling it “among the countries leading the global tobacco control efforts.” But how accurate is this claim?
Smoking In Turkey
According to the WHO, Turkey has “made great achievements” toward reducing the impact of tobacco in their country. But according to the Guardian’s Tobacco Atlas, almost 50% of Turkish men smoke cigarettes (46.6%). What’s worse is that nearly 90% of children ages 13-15 are exposed to second-hand smoke (89.3%).
The extent of the WHO’s embellishment is apparent when you consider the statistics from a nation that is much more accepting of vaping. According to the same report, in the United States, only around 32% of men smoke cigarettes, along with a relatively tiny 12% of teens exposed to cigarette smoke. The US isn’t even the world leader in vaping implementation. That crown goes to the United Kingdom, which is currently experiencing their lowest smoking rates ever after continuing to support e-cigarettes as a legitimate smoking cessation tool. A Public Health England survey found that only 16.9% of British adults said they were smokers. These cases make it abundantly clear that accepting vaping directly leads to lower smoking rates.
This is in complete opposition to what the WHO has stated over and over. For example, just in their press release for Turkey’s decision, they said: “The consumption of these products [e-cigarettes] in recent years has increased at an alarming rate among youth and young adults, raising the probabilities of higher numbers of cigarette smokers in the future.”
Regardless of what their reasoning is, it’s evident that the WHO is much more concerned with staying the course against vaping, than adjusting to new information. They’re even going as far as to spread flat out lies about the risks of vaping. In their press release, they quoted Professor Hilal Ozcebe of Hacettepe University, who made the very bold claim that vaping is just as dangerous as smoking. She cited the similar levels of nicotine as her only proof of their apparently tantamount harm. Even claiming that nicotine causes cardiovascular diseases when studies have proven that it’s the smoke inhalation that causes long-term damage.
Some have begun to wonder if the WHO is only concerned with keeping the anti-tobacco industry alive and have all but abandoned their charged goal of protecting the health and well-being of people around the world. While this is probably not the case, the result is the same. The WHO continues to push an agenda that is extremely critical of vaping, equating it with smoking whenever they can. This sort of smear campaign being carried out by a respected international coalition has a profound effect on the public perception of e-cigarettes the world over. It’s no wonder that even in the very vaping friendly UK, only around 13% of people understand that vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking.
By choosing to focus on, and even exaggerate the negatives of vaping, the WHO is creating a haven for big tobacco. As mentioned, the smoking rates in the US and UK are both much lower than in Turkey, and this is in part because of their stance on e-cigarettes. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to be applauding a country in which 90% of children are exposed to second-hand smoke as a world leader in tobacco control. These extremely high rates have proliferated in a nation that has banned vaping, while they continue to plummet in places that incorporate it into their harm reduction policies.
Furthermore, why did the WHO applaud Turkey for deciding to stick with policies that have apparently allowed smoking rates to remain out of control? Seemingly the only answer that makes sense is that they are infinitely more concerned with sticking to their guns than they are with working toward a healthier world.
Do you think that vaping is leading to more smoking? How many people do you know who picked up tobacco for the first time after vaping? Why do you think that the WHO seems to be actively working against vaping, regardless of what peer reviewed science has to say? Let us know in the comments.