The Latest Expert Views on E-Cigarettes
A group of prominent scientists from all over the World has got together to oppose the stance of the World Health Organisation (WHO) that wants to classify e cigarettes as tobacco products with all the associated implications. It has sent an open letter to the WHO pointing out the immense benefits that e cigarettes can provide in the fight against smoking.
Huge in every sense
As many as 1.3bn people worldwide may be dissuaded from smoking if they have access to e cigarettes. If they are widely classified as tobacco products there is certain to be a drop in their use. Last year the market was worth over $3bn so there is no doubt that a strong lobby exists that want the industry to continue and expand.
There are 178 countries that are obliged to comply with what the WHO decides under the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. One country that has not signed up to that is the USA incidentally.
Long term effects
One of the most disturbing points in the WHO Case is its point that there is no evidence about whether there may be harmful long term effects in e cigarettes. How could there be with such a recent innovation? Perish the thought that such an argument had been used to block medical breakthroughs over the years.
In Nova Scotia legislation will be introduced shortly to ban the sale of e cigarettes to anyone under the age of 19. The problem that the WHO and its supporters claim is that e cigarettes might actually encourage youngsters to try them and then move on to the real thing. It is a similar kind of argument about soft drug use inevitably leading to hard drug addiction.
Health Canada supports Nova Scotia’s position so it is excellent news that five of the signatories to the open letter to the WHO are prominent Canadians. It is a subjective position to take but these experts reject it as anywhere near as important as getting increasing numbers slowly and safely away from tobacco.
UK bodies undecided
There are others who seem reluctant to endorse e cigarettes. The CEO of the British Lung Foundation, Penny Woods concedes that e cigarettes may be something that reduces the numbers of people smoking but she expresses concern about their unregulated use. Mark Drakeford, the Welsh Government Health Minster is seeking advice from several sources. He is hoping that a balance can be struck between the ban on smoking in public places and the potential harm of using e cigarettes in those same places.
Health and tobacco
There is no doubt that tobacco has had a negative effect on public health throughout the world. It has been a pastime that was increasingly identified as a major factor in several serious diseases. As a result every Government faced, and continues to face a drain on their health resources. Anything that can be done to reduce the numbers of people who smoke and deters the young from starting is good news. The debate is continuing and decisions will need to be made fairly soon.
The impact of the open letter has yet to be felt. Everyone is holding their breath because if the experts are correct e cigarettes provide a real breakthrough. Although some of the large tobacco companies support the e cigarette business none of the scientists involved in the open letter have received funding from that sector. They genuinely believe it is the way forward.