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article imageWHO calls for a ban of e-cigarettes indoors

By Tim Sandle     Aug 27, 2014 in Health
Geneva - The World Health Organization (WHO) has called on e-cigarettes to be banned from indoor public spaces. Furthermore, the United Nations Agency has said that the devices pose a risk to adolescents and the fetuses of pregnant women.
The report comes down strongly on the use of e-cigarettes indoors, saying that the use should be prohibited in homes and in public spaces. E-cigarettes are officially known as electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), although "e-cigarette" or "e-cigs" are the terms in common use.
The WHO warns exhaled e-cigarette vapor could increase the background air levels of some toxicants and nicotine. At the same time, WHO indicates that e-cigarettes are less harmful than traditional cigarettes and cigars, although it also notes that any presumption that e-cigarettes carry no health risks are inaccurate. Earlier this year, Los Angeles City Council decided to ban the use of electronic cigarettes in the city's public places. This included restaurants, bars, nightclubs and public spaces.
Here the report states: "The fact that ENDS exhaled aerosol contains on average lower levels of toxicants than the emissions from combusted tobacco does not mean that these levels are acceptable to involuntarily exposed bystanders. In fact, exhaled aerosol is likely to increase, above background levels, the risk of disease to bystanders, especially in the case of some ENDS that produce toxicant levels in the range of that produced by some cigarettes."
Also included in the report is a request that governments ban advertisements that could encourage children and non-smokers to use the devices. Here WHO argues that fruit, candy or alcoholic-drink style flavors should be prohibited because they are designed and marketed in such a way as to encourage children to want to smoke them and also to entice those who have never smoked to take up the nicotine habit.
The WHO report has been challenged by one of the manufacturers of e-cigarettes. Quoted by the BBC, British American Tobacco company said: "We have always said that given nicotine is addictive, minimum age laws of 18 for the sale of e-cigarettes should be introduced.
"However, if overly restrictive regulations are introduced hampering innovation or adult usage, then this could simply stifle the growth of new products and prevent smokers from being aware of and having access to them - this can only be bad thing for public health."
Professor John Ashton of the Faculty of Public Health, takes a middle distance position, according to The Daily Telegraph. He is quoted as saying : “Most adult smokers start smoking before the age of 18. That's why many public health experts are concerned that the advertising of electronic cigarettes could make it seem normal again to think smoking is glamorous, when it is anything but. We also don’t know enough yet about the harms and side effects of electronic cigarettes, and it will take years before we can be sure what they are.”
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