Top 4 Most Laughable Parts of the WHO’s FCTC Report on Nicotine Pouch Flavours
The World Health Organization (WHO) is always up to something when it comes to meddling with smoking harm reduction. Like any good villain, the UN agency has an interesting origin story and complex motivations. But that’s where the comparisons end unless I missed a Bond movie where the antagonist’s plan was a ban on nicotine pouch flavours.
As the FCTC COP10 approaches in November, more documentation has been released. There are two anonymously written reports: one on disposable vapes, the other on nicotine pouches. You can read them here.
Alternatively, you can read some of their thin arguments right here.
What does the report say?
It won’t come as too much of a surprise to anyone who has been paying attention to the recent work of the WHO, but the report is a beguiling mix of misinformation, disinformation, jumbled thinking, and outright paranoia.
Here are the Top 4 ridiculous parts of the WHO report on nicotine pouches.
#1 Flavoured products disproportionately attract young people
Page 2 of the report starts with this quote, “Studies have shown that flavoured tobacco products disproportionately attract young people”. It then cites this paper in support. It’s about e-cigarettes, but the WHO is confident that the same principles apply, so let’s run with that.
The problem here is that the study shows adult vapers with a median age of 40 say they prefer sweet and menthol flavours, with 85% citing flavours as an important reason for vaping. The paper doesn’t really support the conclusion of the report. It turns out everyone likes flavours, both young and old. If you want smokers to quit, flavours are important.
#2 Double taboos
The report then demonstrates the old adage that “when you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” They speculate that teenagers will be interested in pouches that are flavoured like cocktails or alcoholic drinks as a form of rebellion against authority.
To be clear, the pouches don’t contain alcohol, but apparently, all the cool kids will be gobbling them down with their Harvey Nichols Espresso Martini suckers. I don’t buy it.
#3 Concept flavoured trickery
Next, the report aims its wonky crosshairs at “concept-flavoured” pouches. Some of these flavours include Bergamot & Rose Oil, Ginger & Lemon, and Northern Wood.
For anyone who knows how marketing works, these products are clearly trying to appeal to a more sophisticated, wellness-adjacent adult market. They are basically types of perfume.But for the WHO, it’s all a diversionary tactic to take the heat off other flavours. You couldn’t make it up.
Let’s think it through. Regulators are fixated on fruit-flavoured products, but news of a Bergamot & Rose Oil pouch comes across their desk, and they drop the case and go home. Only on planet WHO.
#4 An April Fool’s Day Joke
Next up, the WHO report makes a big deal about an April Fool’s Day joke made by ZYN and VELO. Each brand posted “whimsical” flavours, like “Buffalo Wings” or “Smoked Salmon”. Then, in their best Columbo impression, they suggest that it was improbable that both brands posted about a “Deviled Egg” flavour by coincidence.
I think this is meant to be a real “gotcha” moment that implies that Philip Morris International and British American Tobacco are in cahoots somehow, but they were too sloppy to hide the trail from the razor sharp minds at the WHO.
I can only conclude that every day is April Fool’s Day at the World Health Organization.
The World Health Organization has produced a paper on nicotine pouch flavours that is stuffed with more clumsy innuendo than a Carry On movie. It’s meant to be a serious document, but, at times, it reads more like the ramblings of a conspiracy theorist.
We can either laugh or cry, so I’ll leave you with a joke.
What’s the WHO’s favourite nicotine pouch flavour? Cherry picking.
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