The World Health Organization's Tough Tactics Against Tobacco and E-Cigs

The United Nations' public health agency achieves consensus through mass detentions and media censorship.


In India today, tobacco use is so widespread, a million deaths every year are attributed to its use. Tobacco can be stuffed inside of a wide variety of cigarettes and beedis, minced into a masala of spices known as gutka, or piled on top of paan – a leafy, addictive stimulant that multiplies a user's risk of oral cancer almost tenfold.

Those million deaths a year are one reason why the Seventh Session of the Conference of the Parties is being held in Delhi this year. Run by the World Health Organization (WHO), the conference is dedicated to curbing tobacco use through education, taxation, bans, and worldwide enforcement against smuggling operations. One-hundred-and-eighty signatory nations are bound to follow the bylaws passed behind these doors.

ExpoCentre, site of the Seventh Conference of the Parties

But who gets a say in what the WHO does is a hotly contest matter. Only thirty members of the public and selected members of the media are treated to limited, stage managed press conferences. Nations like China, with state-owned tobacco monopolies, are warmly welcomed, but anyone with the slightest connection to a private tobacco industry is shown the exit. Large pharmaceutical companies generously fund conference attendees, while their anti-tobacco products like Nicorette gum compete with products that the WHO views unfavorably, like electronic cigarettes.

The secretive nature of the conference didn't go over well with India's tobacco farmers. After a few minutes of protest outside the convention, 500 farmers were corralled by police and detained inside this local police station. After a brief negotiation and a bribe offered from an unnamed source outside of ReasonTV, leaders of the movement were temporarily released to speak with us outside the walls of the police station.

As the farmers were being released from jail that evening, convention delegates voted to expel the media from the remainder of the conference. Drew Johnson, a reporter and columnist for The Daily Caller, decided to stand up for transparency by staying seated in the press gallery. He was forcibly ejected.

Drew Johnson of The Daily Caller is ejected from the FCTC conference.

If it's hard to understand why a $4 billion organization like the WHO feels threatened by the average Indian farmer who lives on $3 a day, it's worth recalling the source of all the hostility. By hook or by crook, the tobacco industry has pushed back against every public health measure in the last fifty years. The result is today's polarized debate, one that values the elimination of tobacco over jobs, transparency, and consumer choice.

Expanding its authority beyond tobacco control, e-cigarettes and vape products now find themselves potentially subject to a worldwide ban. Delegates to the convention have expressed support for "a complete ban on the sale, manufacture, import and export of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems". Small but determined activist communities like Asian Vape Association, are already fighting back, organizing their own counter-conferences in Delhi this year.

It can't be easy getting 180 signatory nations to agree on much of anything. This year, the Seventh Session of the Congress of the Parties resolved only two things of note: reaffirming their determination to regulate vaping products. And further limiting access to the convention by the public, due to potential tobacco industry interference. Two resolutions that seemed designed to elicit more public protest at the next conference, two years from now.

Produced, photographed, narrated, and edited by Todd Krainin.

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  1. Profits before People!

    1. i thoroughly enjoyed both this article & this comment with the smooth flavor of a Marlboro cigarette. Marlboro: theyre not just for kids anymore.

  2. Comments Before Squirrelz!

    1. Damn them squirrelz scare easy

      1. I must be doing something wrong. Over the weekend the squirrels worked overtime against me.

  3. *spits*

  4. The Anti-Tobacco Crusade slipped its moorings sometime back in the mid 1970’s. Sometime in there a researcher, wondering at how similar all naked lab rat cancer experiments were, did an experiment where the experimental group was painted with distilled water. They produces tumors in numbers strongly similar to the numbers used to label cigarette tar and artificial sweeteners ‘carcinogenic’.

    Apparently, the laboratory procedure itself causes increased tumors in rats.

    Since then the Crusade has drifted farther and farther away from reason. The statistics they quote are suspect. The ‘studies’ done to justify Crusading against secondhand smoke very carefully do not address the issue of levels of exposure, because if they did they would have to admit that working in a smoky bar while not smoking yourself, probably results in inhaling the equivalent of less than a cigarette every two days (EPA report has a footnote somewhere around pp 36 saying that it is ‘two fifths of a cigarette”).

    Smoking is a vice. Vice is very rarely good for you. Nevertheless, it is high time we told these asshatted busybodies to screw off.

    1. But it smells bad and I don’t want to see it.

      /the majority of America since about 1990

      At best, you might rollback some of the blanket bans to allow business owners a choice. But I doubt even that will ever happen.

      1. I’m not sure. There are days when I feel the way you do. But there are days when I wonder how reliable the statistics on smoking are. Is smoking really down as low as the Crusade claims among teens, or have the teens simply stopped telling the truth? Has smoking dropped in the general population, or have smokers simply started lying because they are tired of being hectored?

        We’ll see.

    2. Smoking is not a vice.

      1. At least not a very good one.

      2. How not? I would have thought it was pretty classically a vice.

  5. Maybe the Dinosaur just has the DEA add Tobacco and E-cigs to schedule 1? Fuck, I’d add bendryl and tylenol also. These soft on crime people got to go! TRUMP! TRUMP! TRUMP! TRUMP!

  6. If you think the way we do things in America is slimy…

    …go visit any UN/WHO/WTO/UNAID etc. conference. they add that extra-dimension of 3rd-world corruption/Elite-Bureaucrat scumbaggery.

    1. “Your winnings, sir.”

    2. Much of this tobacco money is going into general expenditures not remotely related to preventing or treating lung cancer or emphysema. …
      Michigan, which taxes smokers 75-cents-per-pack…

      And that was written 16 years ago. Now I probably pay about 7 dollars a pack in taxes. You’re welcome, America.

  7. Thankfully we have a president-elect many in the UN fear will evict them and convert their building into luxury condos.

    1. “Welcome. We hope you enjoy your stay at the Trump General Assembly.”

      1. Trump is not welcome in NYC anymore.


    Shocker: In Wake of Hillary’s Defeat, Donations to Clinton Foundation Dry Up


    1. How will she fund her 2020 run?

    2. Unpossible = i was told all of their donations were entirely for their very-effective and highly-transparent charitable work.

      and totally not the influence they wielded inside the government.

    3. If they are down in 2016, when she was destined to win , wait until 2017…

      1. But Hillary is already being re-branded again for 2020!

          1. She’s now been schlonged by both Obama and Trump. But…

            I think she’s already been hinting at it. And I bet she does it, and anyone in the Democratic party who tries to stop her will meet with misfortune. She’s going to be the D candidate until she’s dead.

            1. Which doesn’t seem all that unlikely to happen sometime before 2020.

            2. She can be the Millenials’ Harold Stassen.

        1. If you want a picture of the future, imagine 2016 US Presidential Campaign stepping on a man’s balls, forever.

        2. Get those irons in the fire!

  9. The New Scientific Method:

    1. Develop hypothesis
    2. Devise “experiment” that “proves” hypothesis correct
    3. Declare hypothesis definitively proven beyond all doubt
    4. Suppress all dissent

    1. Alternate title: The Lysenko Process

    2. You forgot the get funding step. That should be number 3.

      1. That is steps 0, 1a, 2a, 3a, 4a, and 5-10.

    3. are you referring to a specific publication or just generally all science right now?

      1. Well, there’s more to it than what I said, like Hyperion points out, but it does seem like a lot of fields of “science” are doing anything but nowadays.

        1. Real science is being done, but too much ‘science’ is now politically driven. Especially warming. That’s what gets the big funding, so it just keeps on going no matter how much the public is not buying it. There’s big money in it for researchers lucky enough to get funding, not to mention the potential spoils for cronies and tin pot dictators around the globe.

      2. The Lancet for sure.

      3. Reason’s own Ron Bailey has been pointing out that the vast majority of scientific papers in the modern era can’t be reproduced, which actually supports KBolino’s point.

        1. Research is … well there are typically so many variables, for one thing. The other thing is bias. You see a study claim that one glass a day of wine is good for you. Tomorrow there will be another study that claims this is not true. And the next day, there will be another one that claims one glass of wine a day is actually bad for you.

          So basically, if a given study does not suit your bias, just wait for the next one, it might. Except for warming of course, where any dissent will get you driven out of the research world. Too much money for dissent.

    4. Sort of like those studies funded by the fossil fuel industry which “prove” that anthropogenic climate change is a hoax?

      Watch the replies to this one and you’ll see the “Suppress all dissent” part in action.


      1. Citations (multiple) needed.

  10. David Burge ?@iowahawkblog
    “As God is my witness, I thought Amy Schumer political lectures would sell beer.”…..1479687543

    Trump’s Win Has Ad Agencies Rethink How They Collect Data, Recruit staff

    One takeaway for him and his staff was that too much advertising falsely assumes that all U.S. consumers desire to be like coastal elites.

    Even as many ad agencies try to improve their gender and racial diversity, industry executives say they also need to ensure their U.S. employees come from varied socioeconomic and geographic backgrounds.

    A diversity hire “can be a farm girl from Indiana as much as a Cuban immigrant who lives in Pensacola,”

    1. Cubans live in Miami. What dumb fuck is running this company?

      1. a Cuban from East Mississippi would be diverse.

        1. If you can catch one, he has to give you his pot of gold.

      2. That’s why a Cuban from Pensacola is a diversity hire.

        1. Or works at Pensacola Naval Air Station. We were out that way at the beginning of November to see some of my wife’s family. I had never been to the museum. It was damn cool. Although why is everything an F-4?

        2. He’s slagging on Tallahassee, which is like a midget punching down.

          1. I don’t live there anymore, but Tallahassee punches well above its weight in both the attractive women and delicious food department. A midget punching down would talk about how short jean shorts and bared midriffs are still popular for both sexes in Gainesville.

            1. Gainesville? Is that one of those places where people shoot at “mud pooters” from swamp boats?

              1. While wearing tight jeans shorts and no shirt.

              2. Shoot at? Is that some Yankee euphemism for thrown stick dynamite?

                1. Depends on if you’re just looking for a snack or trying to feed all your baby mommas and kids.

                  1. Fun fact: the number one form of employment in Gainesville is smoking in the parking lot of 7-11.

                    1. I’m gonna open up the First Church of Tebow, Redeemer. Its just going to be me retelling Chuck Norris jokes with Tim Tebow’s name and talking about how awesome God is if you have the right genes and a little luck.

      3. Could have been worse, could have called him a Hispanic immigrant.

    2. A diversity hire “can be a farm girl from Indiana as much as a Cuban immigrant who lives in Pensacola,”

      NO! White people are a monolithic bloc who all think the same and act the same. “Farm girl” is code for backward racist, xenophobe, misogynist.

      1. The only way the irony could get thicker is if they referred to them as poor, uneducated cotton pickers or plow girls.

    3. Even as many ad agencies try to improve their gender and racial diversity, industry executives say they also need to ensure their U.S. employees come from varied socioeconomic and geographic backgrounds.

      In other words, stop obsessing on gender and racial diversity?

    4. A diversity hire “can be a farm girl from Indiana as much as a Cuban immigrant who lives in Pensacola,”

      I’m pretty sure the punchline to this joke constitutes sexual harassment.

  11. I see the NYT is making good on it’s pledge to actually report news in an unbiased manner.

    Make America White Again!

    Can’t wait until Friedman and Bruni stop crying long enough to write their next fluff pieces.

    1. Why did we have all the stupid ads and debates? If the only choices available is voting white America or anti-white America, just put those two choices on the ballot. Oh, they are just crybaby losers. Carry on.

    2. Trump’s trolling America more than Kanye even.

      1. Here’s some pretty stellar trolling:

        Trump supporters troll Starbucks

        1. I’m going to have to disagree, Starbucks still gets their money and the only people inconvenienced are low level retail employees. Plus you have to drink Starbucks coffee.

          1. Isn’t the whole point to annoy all the proggies in Starbucks by having the name of The Evil One Who Should Not Be Named shouted aloud across the store?

            I’m with you on the quality of the coffee though. It’s amazing that so few question why Starbucks coffee tastes exactly the same everywhere you go. That’s what you get if you burn the shit out of coffee beans. Might as well save yourself some cash and burn them yourself at home for a lot cheaper.

            1. For some reason that I can’t fathom a lot of people are convinced that dark roasts (i.e. burnt beans) are the only serious coffee.

            2. Even if that is the purpose, I still dislike using some low level grunt as your prop.

              1. Gotta take advantage of them before their robot replacements arrive.

              2. If it makes you feel better, the low level grunt is probably a womyn’s studies major at Sarah Lawrence.

                (whether the person is male or female, or other).

                1. Well, that’s oddly specific.

      2. It’s celebrity trolls all the way down.

  12. Is this thing (and by thing I mean microphone, you cis shitlord!) on?

  13. It’s nice to see that witch hunting is still popular as a sport. Throw out all the press who even have the taint of tobacco funding. If that doesn’t seem like it was enough, throw all the press out. Throw the public out, because FYTW. Your betters are smarter and more educated, and they know what’s best for you.

    I don’t even smoke, but fuck these guys and their back-room dealings.

    1. I really should quit smoking, but these assholes are making it impossible. I just can’t let them think they’ve won.

      1. They are literally funding huge chunks of government on the backs of smokers who they know will find it very difficult to quit. They are fucking evil.

        1. Have you ever looked at how much in taxes is collected from the health care sector of the economy? The state funds itself on your pain and suffering and then turns around and tells you that the reason it’s so expensive is “greedy corporations”, that the state is the solution to all your problems because they can do it better.

          How is that moral?

          Slash all the taxes on health care, free up competition across state lines, and extend the tax break that keeps insurance tied to employers to everyone.

      2. Maybe you should take up vaping instead. It seems like that pisses them off more than anything these days.

        The sanctimonious “for the children” group amongst them is the worst. But… all those flavors might convince the children to start vaping and before you know it they’ll be laying dead in alleyways with heroin needles in their arms, oh won’t anyone think of the children?

        1. Yeah, but vapers are annoying too.

          I always thought the “ban flavors for the children” thing seemed wrong. Maybe the kids are different today, but when I was a young a foolish person getting started smoking, fruity flavored bullshit was for pussies and only weirdos and girls smoked menthols. Kids don’t start smoking because it’s like candy. They do it because it’s grown up and bad-ass and gets you an interesting buzz to begin with.

          1. Yeah, but vapers are annoying too.

            Politically powerless, though. If you’re about sending a message, it might as well be to the ones who are both annoying and want to point a gun at you and raid your wallet.

            1. Yeah, mostly joking. I ought to give vaping another shot just for health reasons alone. I think smoking is still most hated, though.

    2. Government-funded research finds, surprise surprise, that we need More State.

  14. The one image that no authoritarian can ever allow: imagine an 18 y/o high school dude with stringy hair propped up against a lamppost on the edge of school property. He is smoking a cigarette after school while staring at the principal with a smirk that says “what the fuck are you gonna do about, not shit asshole”

    Proggies cannot stand the thought of someone mimicking that smoking action

    1. Class of ’84. Student smoking area between C and D building.

  15. Another reason to kick the freeloading authoritarian UN out of the USA.

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