The World Health Organization (WHO) today published a report calling for a ban on the use of electronic cigarettes indoors, as well as restrictions on e-cigarette advertising and sales to minors. The report also calls for regulations on the contents of e-cigarettes and raised concerns over the interests of major tobacco companies, which have begun to command a greater share of a market that saw $3 billion in sales last year.
Today's report comes two days after the American Heart Association (AHA) weighed in on the debate, saying in a statement that e-cigarettes could be used to help people quit smoking. Health experts are divided on the benefits and potential pitfalls of using e-cigarettes, with some saying they could save lives by turning people away from traditional cigarettes, and others warning that they could "renormalize" smoking and encourage youths to pick up the habit. But both the AHA and WHO agree that stronger regulations are needed, with each organization raising concerns over how the products are marketed. The AHA also said that they should be regulated under existing rules for tobacco products.
"not merely water vapor"
In its report, the WHO called for a ban on fruity- and candy-flavored e-cigarette products that may appeal to minors, and that their "e-liquids" should be regulated to "minimize content and emissions of toxicants." It also suggested that governments regulate the health claims that some manufacturers are making in the absence of strong empirical evidence, and recommended bans on vending machines in most places. The organization added that e-cigarettes expose non-smokers and bystanders to nicotine, and that evidence suggests that their emissions are "not merely water vapor" as many believe.
The report was published as part of the WHO's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, an international public health treaty that came into effect in 2005. Since then, 179 countries have ratified the treaty, with the US standing as a major exception.
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