MINISTERS will stand up to hardline global health chiefs next month to defend our “world-leading” swap-to-stop free vapes scheme.
The World Health Organisation will call for COP10 countries to clamp down harder or even ban e-cigarettes, which it calls “harmful to health and not safe”.
But England this year launched the world’s first government scheme to offer free vapes to smokers to help them kick the killer habit.
Now the UK delegation will reject policies that jeopardise our revolutionary programme – instead offering advice to nations that want to follow our lead.
A major review recently found e-cigarettes are one of the best ways to ditch fags – with a 14 per cent quit rate compared to nine per cent for nicotine patches or gum.
Tory MP Craig Whittaker said: “It is essential that at COP10 we stand up for our record and policies as a world leader on tobacco harm reduction.
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“The UK is on the right course in providing access to less harmful alternatives to smoking, and we shouldn’t let the WHO restrict this.”
Mark Jenkinson MP added: “We cannot allow the WHO and other EU nations to dictate our domestic health policy.”
The WHO will encourage governments to toughen smoking and vaping laws at a session of its Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in Panama in November.
It wants tighter controls on the advertising, distribution and use of the devices.
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Rishi Sunak vowed last week to bring in new rules to protect kids and teenagers from fruity and colourful single-use e-cigs.
But vapes will still be available for adults and given free on the NHS to help addicts quit smoking, which kills around 76,000 Brits every year.
Chris Snowdon, of the Institute of Economic Affairs, said: “The WHO’s unscientific and fanatical opposition to e-cigarettes is a threat to global health.
“The UK has an opportunity to make a difference at the Panama conference by vetoing any anti-vaping proposal.
“British taxpayers give too much money to the WHO to be bossed around by a fundamentally corrupt and incompetent organisation.”
Around 6.4million people in the UK smoke cigarettes and 4.5million are regular vapers.
Studies suggest vaping is much safer because there are no chemicals or tar from smoke – but the long-term effects are not yet known.
A government source said other countries can do what they want and the UK “will continue to share our experience of our approach to vaping”.
Health Minister Neil O’Brien said: “The delegation will not agree to any decisions which would impact on our ability to make vapes available for smokers who wish to quit.”
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