Are WHO's plans to crackdown on electronic cigarettes justified?

Electronic cigarettesThe WHO has issued a long-awaited report on electronic cigarettes that asks for regulations for the devices and their contents, as well as bans on indoor use, advertising and sales to minors. The WHO has asked for a range of options including prohibiting e-cigarette makers from making health claims and also to provide 'convincing supporting scientific evidence and obtain regulatory approval'.

E-cigarettes are more tempting to non-smoking youths than regular cigarettes and US researchers suggest that e-cigarettes might drive people to try regular cigarettes. The USFDA also looked to crackdown on electronic cigarettes recently. While advertising for conventional cigarettes has long been prohibited in the US, e-cigarettes are being routinely advertised in traditional and social media including Twitter, claims a new study. E-cigarettes are commonly advertised on these platforms and tweets often link to commercial websites promoting e-cigs, researchers from the University of Illinois said.

'There is this whole wild west of social media platforms Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and the US Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) has no way to track what is happening in those platforms,' said lead study author Jidong Huang from the University of Illinois.

Also Read

More News

To reach this conclusion, researchers collected tweets and metadata related to e-cigarettes during a two-month period in 2012. Using novel statistical methodology and carefully chosen keywords, they captured more than 70,000 tweets related to e-cigarettes. Among the 70,000 tweets, nearly 90 percent were commercial tweets and only 10 percent were individual consumer opinions.

As many as 94 percent of the commercial tweets included a website link. 'If kids or youth search for 'vaping pen' or 'e-cig' on Twitter, they will get links to commercial sites where they can purchase these items,' Huang stressed.

Unlike Facebook and some other platforms where one can set privacy controls, all information on Twitter is accessible to anyone. 'We know very little about what these products are made of and what kind of chemicals are in the e-juice,' Huang emphasised. The findings, published in the journal Tobacco Control, have implications for future FDA regulations on the marketing of e-cigarettes and related products.

What are e-cigarettes?

An electronic cigarette is a device that mimics the entire smoking process by producing a mist which has the same sensation (sometimes the same flavour too) of smoking. The concept of an electronic cigarette has been around since the 60s but tobacco consumption wasn't really considered hazardous back then and it took until 2003 for the first smokeless e-cigarette to hit the market.

Electronic cigarettes manufacturers claim that they are like real cigarettes except that there are no hazardous health implications because there is no combustion, no tobacco and no smoking. Also since there is no passive smoking, second hand smoke and pollution due to butt litter or smoke.

What's in an e-cig?

The e-cigarette basically consists of three parts: Cartridge, Atomizer and Power supply

The cartridge's a mouthpiece (like a cigarette's butt) that usually holds the liquid that is to be vaporized. The atomizer serves as a heating element and vaporizes the liquid and each of them contains a power supply like a chargeable plug, USB drive or batteries.

An e-cigarette produces nicotine infused vapour and though it looks like smoke is actually atomised air. Some e-cigs replace this nicotine vapour with other flavours like vanilla, chocolate, etc. though certain anti-smoking groups feel this could encourage minors to smoke. As a smoking cessation tool some manufactures even look to replicate the flavour of particular brands like Marlboro, Camel, etc. (Read: Electronic Cigarettes what are they?)

You might also like to read:

For more articles on quit smoking , visit our quit smokingsection. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for all the latest updates! For daily free health tips, sign up for our newsletter. And for health-related queries, visit our Questions and Answers section.

Total Wellness is now just a click away.

Follow us on