Tuesday, August 26, 2014

WHO Report Highlights Dangers of E-Cigarettes

World Health Organization (WHO) has released a report (PDF) on electronic nicotine delivery systems including electronic cigarettes. It looks to be the most careful study of the social and health consequences of e-cigarettes to date. The evidence is clear enough: e-cigarettes are addictive and a threat to public health. From a public policy point of view, there is sufficient evidence to ban the sale of these devices and prohibit their use in public and in enclosed spaces where other people might be present. Electronic cigarettes are a pathway to conventional cigarette addiction, especially for teenagers, and they offer few redeeming qualities, certainly not enough to make up for this specific danger. There is no evidence that e-cigarettes can help people quit smoking; indeed, the investments by tobacco companies in e-cigarette technology strongly suggest the opposite, that e-cigarettes reinforce and amplify nicotine addiction. The toxic fumes produced by electronic cigarettes give every indication of being a danger to users and bystanders, and there is plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest this is the case. A clear nationwide ban of e-cigarettes should be undertaken immediately everywhere. Given the weight of scientific evidence, this could be done in the United States using existing laws without the need for new legislation.