WHO urges strict regulations to curb use of e-cigarettes

Calls for additional research and bans on indoor use and advertising

By Kundan Pandey
Published: Wednesday 27 August 2014


The World Health Organization (WHO), on Tuesday, cleared its stand on e-cigarettes and recommended governments to stop manufacturers from making health claims that they help people quit smoking, until there is some evidence.

In its report, “Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems” (ENDS), of which electronic cigarette is the most common prototype, the international health agency says it is important to impede e-cigarette promotion among non-smokers and young people and also protect existing tobacco control efforts from commercial and other vested interests of the industry. The report has been released in the backdrop of WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), being held from October 13 to 18 in Moscow.

“E-cigarettes and similar devices are frequently marketed by manufacturers as aids to quit smoking, or as healthier alternatives to tobacco, and require global regulation in the interest of public health,” says the report. It also explains that while additional research is needed on multiple areas of uses of e-cigarettes, regulations are required now to address health concerns, in particular for advertising. 

The report goes on to say that an appropriate government body must restrict e-cigarette advertising, promotion and sponsorship, to ensure that it does not target youth and non-smokers or people who do not currently use nicotine.

About indoor use, the report says that legal steps should be taken to end use of e-cigarettes indoors, in public and work places. Evidence suggests that exhaled e-cigarette aerosol increases the background level of some toxicants, nicotine and particles in the air.

A booming industry 
Since 2005, the e-cigarette industry has grown from one manufacturer in China to an estimated US $3 billion global business with 466 brands, a market in which the tobacco industry is taking a greater stake. The report highlights WHO’s concern about the role of the tobacco industry in this market.

The regulations outlined in the report include a ban on e-cigarettes with fruit, candy-like and alcohol-drink flavours until it can be proved they are not attractive to children and adolescents. E-cigarettes have been marketed in almost 8,000 different flavours, and there is concern they will serve as a gateway to nicotine addiction and, ultimately, smoking, particularly for young people. 

India needs to act soon
Meanwhile, India is also considering complete ban on e-cigerette in the country. The committee which has been constituted by Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare Harsh Vardhan to strengthen the law on tobacco and its use, has discussed the issue, says source in ministry.

The committee is supposed to give its report in last week of September.


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