Think You Know Everything About E-cigarettes?

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The UN’s World Health Organization Director General Margaret Chan just received a memo from just over 50 of the world’s top scientists about electronic cigarettes. The memo was a very strong suggestion that the United Nations should not classify electronic cigarettes as tobacco products. They cautioned that this action would lead to sanctions and stringent policies against the growing industry that it does not deserve. The same scientists believe that the e-cigarette industry can actually be a major player in reducing the world’s addiction to tobacco, and classifying them with tobacco products would reverse this effort significantly.

The 53 scientists made no bones about the e-cigarette industry being able to save hundreds of millions of lives from the dangers of tobacco.

The World Health Organization has already taken a strong stance against e-cigarette products, deeming them a threat to world health even though e-cigarettes by definition do not have tobacco in them. However, the WHO does have the ability to reclassify e-cigarettes as tobacco products under the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

Part of the problem is that the e-cigarette industry is backed by the same people who brought about tobacco products in the past, affectionately known as “Big Tobacco.” As a response to the backlash that traditional tobacco cigarettes incurred on a worldwide basis, the e-cigarette industry was created, which is now a US $3 billion industry. Big Tobacco, for its part, is backing the findings of the scientists, obviously.

The Basis for Classifying a Non-Tobacco Product as Tobacco

The basis for putting e-cigarettes in the same boat as tobacco cigarettes comes from previous studies that do not create a real distinction between e-cigs and tobacco cigarettes as competitive products. Basically, people thought that e-cigarettes would help people kick the tobacco cigarette habit, and it does not. The University of California, San Francisco did an aggregation of 84 studies that showed that e-cigs do not help people quit tobacco products.

However, a separate London study found that people who used e-cigarettes were 60% more likely to quit tobacco products than people who used over the counter methods for quitting cigarettes. People who subscribe to these results are cautiously optimistic that e-cigs will serve as a harm reduction agent for those who want to smoke.

Much of the unwillingness of the UN to accept the positive studies about e-cigs may have to do with the people who are backing those studies. However, it may help the world’s population to take a look at the results of all of the studies rather than who is bringing them to the light.

Scientists on E-Cigs

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  • Ali Esmaili
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