Leaked documents from a meeting last November suggest that the World Health Organisation (WHO) wants to classify E-Cigarettes in the same way as regular tobacco products under the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) and that they see them as a “threat”. In what sense they envisage this threat is unclear but if the leaked documents are proved to hold information which is true, then the repercussions for vapers and for the vaping industry could potentially be enormous.
Leading Scientists Warning
However, since the leak a group of 53 leading scientists has warned the WHO that this would jeopardise a very real opportunity to cut disease and deaths caused by smoking. An open letter sent to WHO Director General Margaret Chan stated that the scientists from Europe, North America, Asia and Australasia felt that products such as E Cigarettes are “low risk” and are in fact “part of the solution” in the long term fight against smoking…but crucially that they are not part of the problem.
“These products could be among the most significant health innovations of the 21st century-perhaps saving hundreds of millions of lives. The urge to control and suppress them should be resisted.” wrote the experts.
The WHO’s stance on the subject of tobacco products which are not classified as traditional has caused a number of experts to show concern as in total 178 countries are parties to the international convention and are obliged to implement any measures it sees fit to implement. The United States is notable for being a non-signatory meaning that the sale of E Cigarettes would not be affected there if the WHO were to decide to control the sale of tobacco products.
If these moves to classify E Cigarettes in the same way as traditional cigarettes were to be followed through, then E Cigarettes would be restricted in the same way with health warnings, higher taxes, a ban on advertising and curbs on their use in public places.
Intervention Provides Hope
Because the use of E Cigarettes has risen so dramatically in recent years, there has been a huge growth in the industry with estimated worldwide sales being around three billion dollars in 2013 and this is surely pertinent to the questions which are currently being raised. The group of scientists who have written to the WHO were vocal about their doubts and because they are all respected professionals with voices which command attention, their intervention could be extremely hopeful for vapers and the vaping industry at large.
So it would seem that notable scientists have the public’s health at the centre of their concerns and are doing their utmost to protect the rights of those people who choose to use E Cigarettes as an aid to stopping smoking. If these devices were subject to the controls which the WHO are discussing then they would no longer be as accessible or as affordable…this is not somewhere we want to go and especially not if so many experts think that E Cigarettes pose much less risk than traditional cigarettes.