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Will e-cigarettes be classified like cigarettes?

By Ryan Hite     May 29, 2014 in Environment
A group of scientists has warned the WHO not to classify e-cigarettes as tobacco products, arguing that doing so would jeopardise a major opportunity to slash deaths caused by smoking. E-cigarettes are considered methods of quitting.
The UN agency, which is currently assessing its position, has previously indicated it would favor applying restrictions to all nicotine products.
In an open letter to WHO Director Margaret Chan, the scientists from Europe, North America, Asia and Australia argued that e-cigarettes were "part of the solution" in the fight against smoking and not a part of the problem.
Leaked documents from a meeting last November suggested that the WHO views e-cigarettes as a "threat" and wants them classified the same way as regular tobacco products under the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
That has set alarm bells ringing among a number of medical experts and in the now booming e-cigarette industry. The United States has not signed the document.
A move to classify e-cigarettes alongside normal cigarettes would push countries into taking tough measures to restrict demand, including raising taxes, banning advertising, introducing warnings, and banning use in public places.
The devices are controversial because they are so new there is a lack of long-term scientific evidence to support their safety and some fear they could be "gateway" products to nicotine addiction and tobacco smoking.
For tobacco companies seeking to offset the decline in traditional smoking, investment in e-cigarettes was an obvious choice and all the major players now have a presence. Big Tobacco backs the scientists on these grounds.
More about ecigarette, Who, World health organization
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