The BMA has backed international calls to ban the indoor smoking of e-cigarettes.
In a report published yesterday the WHO (World Health Organisation) recommended that all indoor use of e-cigarettes be banned until there is was evidence about the potential harmful impact of nicotine vapours on bystanders.
The organisation also expressed concern over the impact of e-cigarettes on countries with bans on public tobacco smoking, adding that indoor use should be banned to ensure existing public non-smoking policies are not undermined.
BMA board of science deputy chair Ram Moorthy said it was encouraging that the WHO shared the association’s concerns surrounding e-cigarettes and had joined the BMA in calling for stronger regulation.
He said: ‘Tighter controls are needed to ensure their use does not undermine current tobacco control measures and reinforces the normalcy of smoking behaviour.
‘There is a need for research to understand the health impacts of e-cigarettes on both the user and bystanders, and it is vital that the sale of e-cigarettes is appropriately regulated to ensure they are not sold to minors, and are not aggressively marketed to young people as tobacco was in the past.
‘Any health claims must be substantiated by robust independent scientific evidence to ensure that the consumer is fully informed regarding potential benefits and risks of e-cigarettes.’
Public health support
The report into e-cigarettes has been released ahead of the WHO's Conference of the Parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, due to take place in Moscow between October 13 and 18.
The organisation’s stance has also received support from the Faculty of Public Health.
Faculty president John Ashton said that restricting the advertising of e-cigarettes to children, as advocated in the WHO’s report, was crucial to preventing the re-normalising of public smoking.
He added that not enough was yet known about the potential harms of e-cigarettes.
He said: ‘We welcome the WHO’s call for restrictions on advertising electronic cigarettes to children. Most adult smokers start smoking before the age of 18.
'That's why many public health experts are concerned that the advertising of electronic cigarettes could make it seem normal again to think smoking is glamorous, when it is anything but.
‘We also don’t know enough yet about the harms and side effects of electronic cigarettes, and it will take years before we can be sure what they are.
'Public health experts are concerned that those harms could include a "gateway effect", which will mean young people will become addicted to cigarettes after initially using electronic devices.’
Find out more about the WHO report
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