More than 100 leading public health specialists from around the world have signed a letter to the director-general of the World Health Organisation (WHO), urging for stricter controls on e-cigarettes.
Medical professionals have requested WHO brings e-cigarettes under the same increasingly tight controls as tobacco products – with a focus on advertising and promotion.
The doctors suggest that there is insufficient evidence to support claims that e-cigarettes are harmless and can help people to quit smoking.
The concern in centralised around the “renormalisation” of smoking that would occur if regulation is not implemented – something that decades of anti-smoking campaigning, bans and efforts to marginalise cigarettes has aimed for.
The letter comes shortly after 53 scientists wrote to WHO regarding the regulation of e-cigarettes – arguing that it would in fact cost lives. They states, “These products could be among the most significant health innovations of the 21st century – perhaps saving hundreds of millions of lives. The urge to control and suppress them as tobacco products should be resisted.”
Doctors have argued against these points, using examples of Korea and the US. They said, “Evidence from the US and Korea shows rapid growth in youth e-cigarette use, including disturbing rates among youth who have never smoked a cigarette.
“One e-cigarette manufacturer warns parents that ‘kids may be particularly vulnerable’ to the flavouring in its products.”
The letter paid special attention to the tobacco industry’s role in the new product, which has gained tremendous popularity very quickly – also referring to the tobacco giants as a “stalking horse”.
The letter adds, “By moving into the e-cigarette market, the tobacco industry is only maintaining its predatory practices and increasing profits.
“If the tobacco industry were committed to reducing the harm caused by tobacco use, it would announce target dates to stop manufacturing, marketing and selling its more harmful products rather than simply adding e-cigarettes to its product mix and rapidly taking over the e-cigarette market.”
Some 600 medical professionals recently expressed their concern over the delay in the drafting of legislation that would enforce the banning of the marketing on tobacco goods.
The UK government has also been criticised for deliberately delaying decisions regarding the tobacco industry – promoting greater scepticism on their commitment to the campaign.
Photo: Joseph Morris via Flickr