Clive Bates | 14 September 2014
- WHO provides misleading analysis based on selective and biased portrayal of the science (discussed at length in the report). Even if statements made are not always literally false, they will have the effect of misleading with partial truths or statements made without appropriate context or caveats.
- WHO has no coherent framework for discussing relative risk – to smokers, vapers and non-users and appears to place little weight on the health of smokers or nicotine users, or on the ethics of denying or obstructing access to much safer products.
- WHO has a pronounced focus on minor or implausible risks while underplaying potentially large benefits. A further consequence is to understate the risk that benefits will be foregone because of restrictive policies. None of WHO’s communication would leave the reader with the impression remotely similar to that offered by a more straightforward expert assessment of risk, stating at least 20 times lower risk than smoking.
- WHO should restore an objective approach to science and evidence
- WHO should take formal independent scientific advice from its specialised TobReg committee, due to report next in January 2015
- Parties should not bring ENDS into the FCTC - it is technically and strategically inappropriate
- Parties should insist that WHO improve the quality of its policy making and advice - with proper assessment of evidence, options appraisal, impact assessment and consultation
- All stakeholders should treat WHO policy recommendations with caution - they are built on weak evidential and analytical foundations
- WHO should apply much stronger quality control its public risk communications, which have on occasion been blatantly misleading and dangerous.
Full paper in PDF: WHO position on ENDS: a critique of the use of science and communication of risk.