The World Health Organisation (WHO) has called for regulations to prohibit addition of flavours to e-cigarettes, as this would make the youth more dependent on electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS).
Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, WHO Regional Director for South-East Asia, said the increasing popularity of e-cigarettes threatened to undermine years of hard work.
“The argument for ENDS is that they do not contain the toxic byproducts found in cigarettes and do not produce smoke. But there is very little research on ENDS and no convincing evidence that they are effective as a ‘quit smoking device’,” she said in a release.
The note said that as per evidence, the ENDS aerosol is not merely water vapour, but also has carcinogenic agents like formaldehyde, which in some brands reaches concentrations close to those of conventional cigarettes.
“They deliver nicotine, a vasoconstrictor that may contribute to cardiovascular disease. There is evidence to show that nicotine itself, and not just the smoke from cigarettes, can affect brain development in foetuses and adolescents just from passive inhalation.”
In recent years, the electronic cigarette industry has been rapidly expanding, evolving from just one manufacturer in 2005 to a US$ 3-billion global business with 466 brands.
With almost 8,000 flavours added, there is a legitimate concern that instead of reducing the number of smokers, they will actually serve as a gateway to nicotine addiction.