INDEPENDENT NEWS

CAPHRA Hightlights Flaws In Tobacco Control And Rise Of Black Market

Published: Tue 20 Feb 2024 06:07 PM
The Coalition of Asia Pacific Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates (CAPHRA) today issued a stark warning about the unintended consequences of current tobacco control policies, including the alarming rise in the illicit tobacco trade and the unjust vilification of tobacco harm reduction advocates.
"Accusing harm reduction advocates of collusion with big tobacco is not just false, it's a deliberate attempt to divert attention from the real issue: the need for effective strategies to help smokers quit," says Nancy Loucas, a public health policy expert and passionate advocate for tobacco harm reduction and executive coordinator of CAPHRA.
"We stand for public health, and our goal is to reduce the harm caused by smoking."
CAPHRA strongly condemns the ongoing gaslighting of consumer advocacy groups and individuals who support tobacco harm reduction efforts. This misleading narrative, perpetuated by some tobacco control activists, falsely accuses harm reduction advocates of being "in the pocket of big tobacco."
“Such accusations ignore the genuine concern for public health and the well-being of smokers seeking safer alternatives to combustible tobacco. This divisive tactic undermines the potential for constructive dialogue and collaboration in the fight against smoking-related diseases”, said Ms Loucas.
Recent reports highlight the substantial growth in the illicit tobacco market, which now accounts for about 11% of the total global tobacco trade. The elimination of this illicit trade could increase global tax revenues by an estimated USD 47.4 billion annually.[1]
However, stringent tobacco control measures, including high taxes and restrictive regulations, have inadvertently contributed to the expansion of the black market. In Australia, for example, the black market for tobacco is thriving, posing significant challenges to public health and safety.
CAPHRA advocates for a shift towards a consumer-centric approach that prioritizes harm reduction.
"Smokers are turning to the black market when faced with prohibitive policies and excessive taxation," Ms Loucas explained. "We need to provide them with safer, regulated alternatives instead of driving them towards more dangerous, unregulated options."
CAPHRA urges a reformation of tobacco control strategies to include harm reduction as a core principle.
"It's time for the WHO and FCTC to listen to consumers and integrate harm reduction into their policies," Ms Loucas asserted. "Only then can we tackle both the public health crisis of smoking and the escalating illicit tobacco trade."

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