The World Health Organization is being urged not to follow through with its plans to control and suppress the sale and use of e-cigs. This change in thoughts comes from more than 50 specialists not only in the public health field, but also medical researchers.
The reason? An increased belief in the health benefits of using such a device although it is still unclear as to how far the benefits can outweigh the possible risks of consuming nicotine in this way over an extended period of time.
This point about the lack of clarity surrounding the risks is important as even the Department of Health in the UK accepts that we need to do more research into them before being able to come to a definitive conclusion. The fact that the people behind this appeal to WHO are so prominent in their field and that they are claiming they could potentially save millions of lives means that it is in the best interests of WHO to listen to them.
Their concern about them being classified as tobacco and, therefore, changing how they are sold could lead to people delaying using them instead of normal cigarettes. This is not a good idea as it is accepted that using this product can indeed reduce the risks of all kinds of smoking related health issues, so surely any product that can improve things should be made welcome?
However, even though they are against certain restrictions it is still accepted that changes have to be made to the way that they are marketed. Moves are afoot within the UK to possibly ban the sale of electronic cigarettes to anybody under the age of 18 as well as preventing the marketing of the products to children in general. This comes from evidence that has been obtained by the British Medical Association where children that have never smoked are using e-cigarettes as they see them as being a safer alternative. Current advertising formats have a tendency to portray these electronic cigarettes as being cool, so expect that to be made illegal in the near future.
In order for these changes to be made, it is clear that the first step is to actually ensure that the products themselves are of a certain standard. By then focusing on the marketing side, and educating people on smoking in general, and by carrying out more research on both the benefits and the risks, WHO will be able to make the correct call for everybody involved.