Ukraine Uses WHO Report to Justify Flavor Ban, Vape Rules

Ukrainian lawmakers passed a new law today prohibiting the use of electronic nicotine-delivery systems (ENDS) in public places as well as advertising, sponsorship, and promotion of e-cigarettes. The law also bans the sale of flavored e-liquids other than tobacco flavors.

Credit: Da Boost

The parliamentarians said that justification for the regulations is based on the World Health Organization’s new report that suggests e-cigarettes are a gateway to smoking, and that they are as harmful as conventional cigarettes, according to the Independent Women’s Forum. Lawmakers also claimed the flavor ban would reduce underage vaping in Ukraine, while data from the U.S. concerning flavor bans has showed banning flavors actually increases youth use of combustible products.

In its report on vaping, published on Tuesday, the WHO speaks approvingly of the 32 countries where the sale and use of vaping devices is banned. In those 32 countries, people are still free to use combustible tobacco products, which data shows is responsible for more than 7 million deaths each year globally, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“Eighty-four countries still have no bans or regulations to address ENDS, leaving them particularly vulnerable to the activities of the tobacco and related industries,” says the report, which was funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the foundation started by American billionaire and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Not coincidentally, Bloomberg has been appointed the “WHO Global Ambassador for Noncommunicable Diseases and Injuries”—a largely honorary title granted in recognition of the money he spends on tobacco control and other health policy efforts, according to the WHO.

Tobacco harm reduction advocates and vaping industry representatives denounced the WHO report as “nonsensical and dangerous.”

“The WHO has a long-standing anti-vaping stance and this latest attack on a sector that is literally saving millions of lives worldwide flies in the face of scientific evidence, common sense and harm reduction,” said John Dunne, director general of the U.K. Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA) in a statement.

“This report demonstrates that, sadly, the WHO still doesn’t understand the fundamental difference between addiction to tobacco smoking, which kills millions of people every year, and addiction to nicotine, which doesn’t,” said John Britton, professor of epidemiology at University of Nottingham.