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Ban Use Of E-cigarettes Indoors, Says Global Health Watchdog

Posted in Personal Health 28 Aug, 2014

The U.N. Health agency has published a new report, raising fears over the safety of e-cigarettes. In particular, they want to ban the sale of these products to minors. In the UK, an estimated 2.1 million people use e-cigarettes. These battery-powered devices allow smokers to inhale nicotine but avoid the harm caused by tobacco smoke.

What claims did the report make?

The new report also wants manufacturers to stop marketing e-cigarettes as "smoking cessation aids" until they offer strong scientific proof to support the claim. Manufactures of this popular electronic device face a raft of new curbs over wellbeing fears, the World Health Organisation claimed.

Their research claims they pose a health risk to bystanders of "toxicant" emissions in a similar way to conventional cigarettes. Furthermore, they go on to say there is limited evidence that e-cigarettes help smokers to quit their habit.

Second hand smoke

Until there is solid evidence, sales to children should stop and vending machines, which sell the product, should be removed in almost every location to help end the epidemic of tobacco-related diseases. WHO are concerned over the second-hand smoke that e-cigarettes produce. It warns that e-cigarette vapour may raise background air levels of nicotine and intoxicants, which may harm exposed bystanders.

Even though e-cigarettes release vapour rather than smoke, the devices still pollute our air with toxic chemicals. The UK's Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency concluded they must be regulated as genuine medicines to make them less harmful. However, this process is not due to start until 2016.

There's a strong counter argument

Gerry Stimson, professor of Imperial College London and Knowledge-Action Change called it "cherry picking" the science. According to him, it was "exaggerating the risk of e-cigarettes, while downplaying the huge potential of these non-combustible low-risk nicotine products."

He added: "WHO claims e-cigarettes are a threat to public health, but this statement has no evidence to support it, and ignored the large number of people who are using them to cut down or quit smoking completely."

Action on Smoking and Health said it couldn't back plans to add e-cigarettes to smoke-free laws because there's no evidence of any harm to bystanders. Hazel Cheeseman, a spokesperson from the charity, said that e-cigarettes are helping many smokers to quit smoking.

Mixed opinions

While some studies have shown e-cigarettes to be more effective than gum or nicotine patches, others argue that this is yet another marketing scheme to sell more of them. The open advertising of electronic cigarettes may glamorise smoking for some adults, when it is anything but. As the majority of smokers start their habit before the age of 18, young teenagers are usually more susceptible to such advertising.

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