Dear WHO-SEARO Officers,
I have now waited a further full 2 months for any form of reply, whatsoever, to valid questions regarding work that you are charged with doing and have advertised and conceded that you are doing.
Work that has a huge potential impact on 1.25 BILLION tobacco using people in the world 2014 and an impact on the expected 1 Billion avoidable deaths this century as a result of SMOKED tobacco, to the order of 99%.
Please see the below communications to your offices since june 2014 regarding a very highly advertised and communicated “coming damning” Monograph on oral use of several different formulations of narcotic and non narcotic herbs, spices, chemicals and others (partly tobacco) that is extremely widespread in use in and around the Indian subcontinent. The WHO and the “Authoring party” Healis.org in Mumbai chose a somewhat unfortunate title for the Monograph:
A Monograph of Smokeless Tobacco in India
The different formulations of orally used stimulants (some containing tobacco) are according to your own figures estimated to have some 250 million users in your area and according to your figures resulting in 90,000 cases of oral cancer per year. India’s calculated 155 million smokers on the other hand result in calculated 900,000 yearly fatalities according to your own figures. That is roughly 1:20 ratio of harm.
10 states in India (and counting) have so far legislated for complete blanket ban on all types or oral products but no bans on either cigarettes or bidis. This has been successfully accomplished largely due to citing Sweden as source and also the unpublished findings in the Healis Monograph on Smokeless Tobacco use in India.
Sweden, has been cited in many letters and communications found earlier on the healis.org (MUMBAI) website, as proof of the dangers of smokeless tobacco. Sweden has a 50% “ST” use in the male tobacco using population (highest in Europe) yet have by far the lowest incidence of oral cancer in Europe in the same population, as well as for Pancreatic cancer. In fact the lowest levels of any and all tobacco related diseases in the West.
These legislative measures, based on unpublished (unfounded?) and wrongly portrayed science has the quite real probability of creating on the order of 10’s of millions of NEW SMOKERS from ex smokeless users in these states in India alone. If successful.
This is in direct violation of article D in the “use of terms” section of the ratified FCTC.
The “Use of terms” in the FCTC signifies the lens through which all signatories ratify that they will see and address the issues at hand. There is no doubt in the text that the population level benefits worldwide needs to be achieved through taking every individual tobacco users rights to better health and better choice in to account. No human rights trump other human rights. No human’s rights ever trump the rights of another human being. Period.
There is ample published science pointing to the diametrically opposite direction regarding legislative measures and suitable Tobacco Control Policy measures that also are consistent with the FCTC.
Therefore I have strongly argued that it is imperative that this (WHO-SEARO/Healis) report be released in good time before the COP6 so that all stakeholders and interested parties have time to study it carefully and formulate views and opinions. Release of this Monograph has consistently been advertised to be Q3 2013, effectively precisely one year ago.
As of June 12th 2014 (9 months late) I was in writing informed (see below) by your office that the Monograph is “under Editorial Review” and would be put in the Public Domain, which by all counts should mean that at that time the document draft was in your hands. I naturally took that also to mean that it would be in the Public Domain in good time before the COP6, due to it’s paramount importance (250 million users) and pre-advertised (alluded) damning and conclusive findings.
The WHO is a public organization with one of the world’s most powerful voices on Public Health and impacts on policymaking, and according to me, therefore has an equally large responsibility toward the public which it serves. I, and all my fellow human beings are that public. Both individually and collectively and also in distinct special interest groups. All equally valid as your counterparts, partners or entities, to which your are charged with serving, to the best of your abilities and in the interest of public health OUTCOME, not ambition.
Smokeless Tobacco products (4.4.1 on the provisional COP6 agenda) is clearly included in the Agenda for Moscow but there has been no reply from you for a further 2 months after last communication, and also no putting in the Public Domain of any Monograph. Can I take this to mean that the majority of products in India simply do not qualify as “STP’s” anymore, but rather are something completely different and will in the future also be treated as such?
4.4.2 on the same agenda “ENDS” May I presume that due to the obvious failure of successfully producing a conclusive Monograph on Smokeless the stance on “ENDS” will be somewhat more cautiously positive from WHO-SEARO? Thus better respecting billions of individual’s rights and freedoms to choose, and possibly to better health, at least until such time as (further) (possible) adverse effects from “ENDS” have been scientifically proven?
You have had under “Editiorial Review” one of the world’s most important and crucial reports (250 million directly affected and 1 billion possibly benefiting from switching) since at least june 12th 2014 and in writing pledged to put this report in the Public Domain. The world’s most important conference on the exact same subject (organized under the WHO umbrella) begins in 10 days. Why is there no Monograph and why is it not in the Public Domain and why is there no voluntary and comprehensive explanation for this in the Public Domain instead? The delay is one full year and the conference in Moscow is in only 10 days.
www.healis.org is the Public Domain of the “Authoring Party” to the WHO-SEARO for production of the Monograph on smokeless tobacco in India (Release dates Q3 2013). In effect meaning that until the release by the WHO of the report this is the designated place for the public and interested parties to follow the work. Why is the healis.org website and it’s archives of communications and science no longer accessible? If it is due to maintenance or such it seems that 10 days before COP6 that would be singularly irregular or inconsiderate or irresponsible.
Thank you very much in advance for addressing these questions immediately as time is so short.
With my deepest respects for the WHO’s charters and responsibilities for World Public Health.