GENEVA (18 October 2021) – In a new policy brief, the World Heart Federation (WHF) is calling on governments to implement strict regulations on e-cigarettes in a determined effort to stop the e-cigarette epidemic in its tracks.
Electronic cigarettes, also known as e-cigarettes, have become an increasingly popular alternative to conventional cigarettes, particularly among young people. This is primarily due to aggressive marketing strategies and misleading claims by manufacturers, which have led to a widespread belief that e-cigarettes are a healthy option compared to regular tobacco cigarettes. These claims, however, appear to ignore the growing number of studies that link e-cigarettes to a range of health issues, including an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
The long-term health effects of e-cigarettes remain largely unknown, but studies have found that e-cigarettes contain and produce dangerous substances which can affect the heart, respiratory system and brain. And while there is some evidence that vaping can help smokers quit, it has been found to have the opposite effect on non-smokers, who are more likely to start smoking after taking up vaping.
The effectiveness of e-cigarettes as smoking cessation tools has been brought into question by multiple studies, which have shown that smokers who start using e-cigarettes often become dual users of both traditional and electronic cigarettes. In fact, a growing body of research shows that e-cigarettes are unhealthy products designed to be addictive and hook first time users, particularly teenagers – a key target market for e-cigarettes manufacturers.
This strategy, which involves luring a new generation of potential consumers, perpetuating the nicotine addiction and misleading regulators, is straight out of the Big Tobacco playbook. It will come as no surprise that prominent players in the tobacco industry have all invested heavily in the e-cigarette market, including Philip Morris, British American Tobacco and Japan Tobacco.
The WHF Policy Brief, E-Cigarettes: A New Threat to Cardiovascular Health, explores the available evidence regarding the negative health impacts of smoking e-cigarettes and highlights the need for stricter regulation and greater oversight of e-cigarette sales and marketing, particularly when it comes to young people.
“The tobacco industry has a long history of deceptive marketing practices,” said Eduardo Bianco, Chair of the WHF Tobacco Expert Group. “Today, it promotes e-cigarettes as a safer and less addictive alternative that can help people quit smoking. But, as we’ve seen in the past, independent scientific evidence does not match up with claims by the industry. Our Policy Brief aims to clarify any misconceptions around the health impacts of e-cigarettes while urging governments to take action.”
The brief includes a list of specific actions that every government should immediately take, including:
- Prohibit the sale and distribution of e-cigarettes to minors
- Ban the use of flavouring agents and prohibit the sale of e-cigarettes online
- Require labelling and health warnings on the packages of e-cigarettes
- Prohibit the use of e-cigarettes wherever traditional cigarettes have been banned
- Prohibit marketing, advertising, and misleading claims regarding e-cigarettes
- Apply excise taxes on e-cigarettes
- Conduct more research to understand the long-term effects of e-cigarettes on cardiovascular health
Like the many tobacco and nicotine products that precede them, e-cigarettes carry significant health risks. Yet despite evidence to the contrary, vaping continues to be marketed as a healthy alternative to smoking, and an increasing number of people are falling into the trap. Unless governments take immediate action, the global e-cigarette market is projected to reach USD 26.8 billion by 2023.
For information, please contact:
Mihela Kralj, Communications Manager, [email protected]