The World Health Organisation, on Tuesday, urged governments to regulate the use of electronic cigarettes as they pose great dangers to human health.
The WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said nicotine was highly addictive and must be regulated to curb the tobacco industry’s “criminal” tactics to get young people hooked on the substance.
Ghebreyesus made the appeal in a WHO report titled ‘Global Tobacco Epidemic 2021”.
He warned that electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) are harmful and should be regulated for maximum public health protection.
The report also showed that tobacco leads to eight million deaths annually, adding that over one million die from second-hand smoking.
“Where they are not banned, governments should adopt appropriate policies to protect their populations from the harms of ENDS, and to prevent their uptake by children, adolescents and other vulnerable groups,” it said.
According to the report, the manufacturers of these products often target youths with thousands of tantalising flavours and reassuring statements.
‘It’s The Most Criminal Act…We Can’t Let That Happen’
Leader of WHO Tobacco Free Initiative, Vinayak Prasad, also noted that targeting children with toxic and poisonous products is a criminal action.
“It’s the most criminal act. And it’s a human rights violation. They run the risk of being addicted for the rest of their lives,” he said.
He further noted that following the huge drop in the sales of cigarette, tobacco companies have developed new products like e-cigarettes and heated-tobacco products while lobbying governments to limit their regulation.
“Their goal is simple: to hook another generation on nicotine. We can’t let that happen.
“Distinguishing the nicotine-containing products from the non-nicotine, or even from some tobacco-containing products, can be almost impossible. This is just one way the industry subverts and undermines tobacco control measures,” he said.
According to the report, the sales of ENDS have been banned in 32 countries including Argentina, Brazil, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Iran, Iraq, Mexico, North Korea and Singapore.
It also stated that 79 countries have adopted measures to either prohibit the use of such products in public places, prohibit their advertising, promotion and sponsorship or require the display of health warnings on packaging.
“This still leaves 84 countries where they are not regulated or restricted in any way,” the WHO said.
The report noted that there were still over billion active smokers around the world.