WHO’s Hostile Welcome: The Day We Were Ejected for Advocating Harm Re …

This year’s World Vape Day was a significant occasion for us at the World Vapers’ Alliance to spread awareness about harm reduction. I, Alberto Gómez Hernández, along with my colleagues Liza Katsiashvili and Lika Janelidze, visited the World Health Organization (WHO) headquarters in Geneva with a clear mission: to advocate for vapers’ rights and promote vaping as a harm reduction tool.

Our visit was not so much about meeting with WHO officials – who are always reluctant to listen to consumers – but rather about making a visible and impactful statement. We arrived with a screen truck displaying testimonials and facts about vaping, aiming to debunk some of the myths the WHO has helped to spread, such as the misconceptions that vaping is as harmful as smoking or that it does not help people quit smoking.

We positioned ourselves outside the WHO headquarters, holding signs that urged the organisation to reconsider its restrictive stance on alternative nicotine products. Our message was clear: the WHO needs to listen to science and consumers and embrace harm reduction strategies. Vaping has helped millions of smokers quit, and it is crucial that public health policies worldwide reflect this reality.

Despite our peaceful and informative approach, we encountered resistance. WHO security personnel approached us after noticing us taking pictures with our signs. They demanded that we stop and show our identification. When we refused, they threatened to call the police. This reaction is indicative of the WHO’s broader refusal to listen to the experiences of consumers—the very individuals most affected by the rules they propose. This way of treating consumers is not new; it was also evident at the Tobacco Control COP 10 conference held in February in Panama. There, consumers were not allowed to join the conference to listen or talk about their experience, and activists outside the venue were treated similarly to how we were treated in Geneva.

The experience underscored the importance of our mission. We need regulatory frameworks that support smokers in transitioning to less harmful nicotine alternatives rather than imposing prohibitive restrictions that could drive them back to smoking. Our visit to the WHO was a crucial step in raising awareness and pushing for evidence-based policies.

As we move forward, the World Vapers’ Alliance remains dedicated to representing the interests of vapers worldwide. Our advocacy efforts are far from over, and we will continue to fight for sensible regulations that protect public health while respecting individual choices.

Thank you for following our journey on World Vape Day. Together, we can make a difference and ensure that vaping remains accessible to those who need it most. Let’s continue to push for a smoke-free future, driven by science and consumer choice.


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Vapear puede salvar 200 millones de vidas y los sabores juegan un papel clave para ayudar a los fumadores a dejar de fumar. Sin embargo, los legisladores quieren limitar o prohibir los sabores, poniendo en peligro nuestro esfuerzo por acabar con las muertes relacionadas con el tabaquismo.

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