E-cigarettes, or electronic cigarettes, simulate tobacco smoking by producing a smoke-like vapor. For some, it’s a dangerous idea that could lead kids to become accustomed to the act of smoking. But a team of fifty international health researchers says it’s critical that governing bodies not consider e-cigarettes, which can help people ditch the smoking habit, a tobacco product.
The health researchers are responding to a leaked report from the World Health Organization (WHO) which suggests that e-cigarettes should be considered a “threat”. It’s true that not everyone likes the product, which mimics cigarette smoking. E-cigarettes have been particularly alluring for young people, who like that the devices can produce vapors of varying flavours, from mint to cherry.
But the benefits of e-cigarettes vastly outweigh the drawbacks, the health researchers say. They point to studies which have shown that electronic cigarettes are far more successful in helping people stop smoking than nicotine patches or gums. On that basis, the health researchers suggest that, properly distributed, e-cigarettes could save millions of lives.
That’s why the team is pressing WHO to avoid labeling e-cigarettes a tobacco product, which might make it more difficult for people to acquire them.
In a recent letter mailed to WHO Director General Margaret Chan, the researchers claim that e-cigarettes “could be among the most significant health innovations in the 21st century.” The letter goes on to insist that “if regulators treat low-risk nicotine products as traditional tobacco products … they are improperly defining them as part of the problem.”
One thing’s for certain: the e-cigarette industry is growing fast. Experts estimate that total sales in 2013 were in the neighborhood of $3 billion.
The World Health Organization continues to study e-cigarette usage and is expected to release a report on the matter later this year.