The World Health Organization (WHO) has recently declared that the sale of electronic cigarettes to children should be banned. Furthermore, they state that the ban should extend far enough to prevent their use indoors and to restrict the creation of flavors that could be deemed attractive to children.
If such measures are taken, two of the main selling points of electronic cigarettes will disappear in an instant, leaving the devices to truly back up claims that they are created solely to help people give up smoking. Current scientific study is ongoing and it is likely no final decisions will be made until the benefits and potential disadvantages of electronic cigarettes are fully explored. However it is a harrowing time for the burgeoning industry and, potentially, a difficult time for anti-smoking campaigners.
Opinions on electronic cigarettes have been divided since the inception of the technology. For some the devices are an excellent method for cutting back on actual cigarettes, with many even arguing that they should be provided to people attempting to quit along with traditional anti-smoking measures, such as nicotine patches and gum.
This view is ostensibly backed up by a study conducted by the Action on Smoking and Health organization, which claims that the electronic cigarette’s function of providing the user with a nicotine replacement can be beneficial in a similar method to the aforementioned methods. However the study also raises questions that have plagued the industry since the electronic cigarette was invented.
In short, the scientific community is still uncertain about the potential side-effects of smoking electronic cigarettes. Few true clinical studies have been carried out on the devices and those that have been are not as conclusive as organizations such as WHO require them to be to truly decide once and for all that electronic cigarettes are less harmful to smokers than smoking itself.
Of further concern is the possibility that the devices could act as a gateway to the real thing for those too young to take up smoking. A recent University of San Francisco study claims that, of 40,000 children studied, more than 6 percent smoked electronic cigarettes during 2013. The study also claims that these children were actually more prone to smoking than those who kept away from the devices entirely.
It is clear that further research needs to be undertaken before any true conclusions can be reached, however initial studies such as these demonstrate a clear line of reasoning for governing health bodies such as WHO. Currently the indication points towards children using the devices and potentially creating a nicotine addiction through them, which is contrary to the stated aim of the product.
The WHO has called for a ban on electronic cigarettes, especially to minors, and the opinion might turn out to be a controversial one among e-cig users. There is anecdotal evidence to suggest that electronic cigarettes have helped adult smokers in their efforts to drop the habit and the devices have become a fairly standard gadget for adults who substitute their regular smoking habit with them. Nevertheless, despite this potential benefit, as long as doubts still remain about the side-effects of the devices it is unlikely that any health organization will truly come out in favor of them.
By: Rebecca Savastio