The WHO awarded a prize to Mexico’s president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (known as AMLO) on May 31, the International No Smoking Day. Although the official reason was the approval of a new Tobacco Law, it is evident that AMLO was prized for his five presidential decrees that ban the commercialization and importation of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS e-cigarettes and heat not burn products).
Commercialization of ENDS has always been illegal in Mexico, but in 2015 the Supreme Court ruled that their prohibition is unconstitutional, motivating a lukewarm legislative process to regulate them. However, the WHO discourages the regulation of ENDS in Lower and Middle Income Countries where they are banned, a recommendation articulated also by The Union (an NGO funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies) in its policy guidelines “When bans are best”.
Once AMLO was elected by a landslide in 2018, these prohibitionist policies were adopted in Mexico at the highest levels of government, as AMLO granted full confidence and absolute personalized control over the drafting of public health policies to his de facto health minister, Dr Hugo López Gatell, who has strong links with the WHO technocracy and Bloomberg Philanthropies.
On February 2020 AMLO signed the first of his five presidential decrees, which banned imports on top of commercialization. This came about as AMLO was convinced by López Gatell that ENDS pose an imminent lethal danger to Mexican youth, using as argument the EVALI crisis conceived as a non ending phenomenon inherently associated to all ENDS.
From the first decree onwards AMLO opposed any type of ENDS regulation (even as tobacco cigarettes) because this would involve the derogation of his decrees, something that he will never accept. The second decree was purely administrative, while the third one exempted heated tobacco products from the decrees.
As the COVID pandemic raged, AMLO appointed López Gatell to be the COVID Czar, a leading role that he performed in a flawed, politicized and even frivolous manner. He became completely discredited and popularly despised.
During 2021 political operatives of López Gatell rudely disrupted the legislative process by excluding from parliamentary debates 12 initiatives launched to regulate the devices in the two Houses of Congress. This process was foiled by the excluded legislators and vaping activists. He convinced some of the Supreme Court judges to place a controversy over the unconstitutionality ruling of 2015. However, the plenum of the court solved the controversy by endorsing the 2015 ruling. AMLO was enraged and vowed to ignore this sentence and to intensify his campaign to ban ENDS. As a visceral reaction, a forth decree banned again heated tobacco products.
The WHO award leaves 1.5 million consumers of ENDS exposed to black markets, as well as 15 million smokers deprived of legal access to safer products that could vastly improve their health. But AMLO will be proud and López Gatell will most likely get a position at the WHO, rewarding his obedient execution of an unconstitutional prohibition through thuggish interference in the parliamentary process. Well done WHO !!!