The media has been plagued by negative stories about electronic cigarettes lately, but in a surprising vote of support, a group of 53 leading scientists warned the World Health Organisation (WHO) not to classify electronic cigarettes as tobacco products, arguing that doing so would jeopardize a major opportunity to slash smoking-related disease and deaths. Research continues to support this assertion, but in leaked documents from a meeting last November, it appears that WHO (and other organizations) view e-cigarettes as a “threat” and want them classified the same way as regular tobacco products under the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). Maybe it’s time to listen to scientists!
In an open letter to WHO Director General Margaret Chan, the group of scientists from Europe, North America, Asia and Australia argued that low-risk products like electronic cigarettes were “part of the solution” in the fight against smoking, not part of the problem.
“These products could be among the most significant health innovations of the 21st century – perhaps saving hundreds of millions of lives. The urge to control and suppress them as tobacco products should be resisted,” the experts wrote.
A total of 178 countries are members in the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) and are obliged to implement its measures, with the U.S. the most notable non-signatory. Although Americans may not feel the brunt of any actions directly, a move to classify e-cigarettes alongside regular cigarettes would push other countries into taking tough measures to restrict demand, including raising taxes, banning advertising, introducing health warnings and curbing use in public places.
Restrictions Are Bad For Everyone
Critics claim that the lack of long-term scientific evidence to support their safety is reason enough to implement harsh restrictions, fearing they could be “gateway” products to nicotine addiction and tobacco smoking. Supporting what e-cig advocates have been saying all along, the scientists pointed out that they were “unaware of any credible evidence that supports this conjecture.” On the contrary, short-term research suggests that e-cigarettes reduce smokers exposure to harmful toxins and may help them quit. Although years of research may still be necessary, should we limit people’s access to these helpful products because “they might” have some negative long-term health consequences, which will undoubtedly be much less severe than smoking or using tobacco-based products?
Although Americans may not be directly affected by actions taken by the WHO, harsh worldwide restrictions will ultimately impact us all. The ongoing health crisis related to smoking is likely to continue, resulting in millions of deaths and rising healthcare costs around the world. And any action taken by the WHO will only boost the push to impose similar restrictions in the U.S.
It’s Time To Listen To Scientists!
Isn’t it about time we start listening to scientists? Rather than using conjecture and fear to push political and corporate-based agendas, shouldn’t we consider the facts? Like many controversial issues, the subject is often controlled by GREED. Government coffers will dwindle dramatically if smokers make the switch to e-cigs, and big corporations (ie: big tobacco and pharmaceutical companies) stand to loose billions of dollars when consumers choose safer, more effective nicotine-based products.
Despite what you read in the media, there’s been a significant amount of research on electronic cigarettes, and it continues support their safety and effectiveness. It will take years for conclusive, long-term evidence, but are we willing to wait that long? E-cigs are saving lives now!