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WHO official decries Istanbul e-cig meeting


A meeting scheduled to be held in Istanbul next month drew the ire of a World Health Organization (WHO) official who defined it as a violation of Turkish laws on tobacco control.

“Smoke-Free Istanbul Dialogue” was criticized by professor Toker Ergüder, head of WHO Turkey’s Noncommunicable Diseases program. Ergüder said the event funded by the tobacco industry was a blatant violation of a law protecting the public from the tobacco industry and other business interests profiting from smokers.

Ergüder said that the upcoming meeting was a plan of electronic cigarette makers seeking a foray into the Turkish market. “The meeting aims to make opinions of experts on electronic and heated cigarettes heard and hear the demands for the transformation of the international tobacco market. Smoking is in decline in developing countries and the tobacco industry has sought to introduce new products to replace cigarettes. International companies acquired small Chinese companies manufacturing electronic cigarettes and through aggressive advertising campaigns, introduced highly addictive electronic and heated cigarettes while funding Foundation for A Smoke-Free World in 2017,” he said. The foundation has earlier acknowledged initial funding from leading cigarette manufacturer Philip Morris.

The WHO official says production and sale of electronic cigarettes has been banned in Turkey since 2017 after the president blocked a law allowing their sale and promoting them would go against the law.

Foundation for A Smoke-Free World advocates “ending smoking by eliminating the use of cigarettes and other forms of combustible tobacco worldwide” according to its website. It also aims “to ensure that the developing world also has equitable access to new technologies and approaches for the purpose of smoking cessation.” A statement on the foundation’s website says tobacco companies “have an opportunity to adopt business models that will lead to a world without combustible cigarettes.”

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