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Urgent Action Needed to Protect Children and Prevent the Uptake of E-Cigarettes

Urgent Action Needed to Protect Children and Prevent the Uptake of E-Cigarettes

Mar 07 AMAZOS - Managing Ecommerce Business Operations

Urgent Action Needed to Protect Children and Prevent the Uptake of E-Cigarettes

In a recent news release dated December 14, 2023, the World Health Organization (WHO) emphasized the urgent need for action to control e-cigarettes and protect children, non-smokers, and the general population from their harmful effects. Despite being marketed as cessation aids, e-cigarettes have not demonstrated effectiveness at the population level and have instead posed alarming risks to public health.

According to the WHO, e-cigarettes have been aggressively marketed to young people, leading to their recruitment and potential addiction to nicotine at an early age. Shockingly, while 34 countries have banned the sale of e-cigarettes, 88 countries have no minimum age restrictions for their purchase, and 74 countries lack regulations to control these harmful products.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, highlighted the concerning trend of children and young people being targeted and trapped into using e-cigarettes, which can lead to nicotine addiction. The addictive nature of e-cigarettes, coupled with their potential health risks, makes them a significant public health concern.

E-cigarettes containing nicotine are highly addictive and can have adverse effects on health, including the generation of toxic substances known to cause cancer and increase the risk of heart and lung disorders. Moreover, their use can impact brain development, lead to learning disorders in young people, and adversely affect fetal development in pregnant women.

Dr. Ruediger Krech, WHO Director for Health Promotion, pointed out the tactics employed by e-cigarette manufacturers to target children through social media and influencers, using appealing flavors and sleek designs. Alarmingly, rates of e-cigarette use among children and young people exceed adult usage in many countries.

Studies have shown that exposure to e-cigarette content on social media can increase the intention to use these products and foster positive attitudes toward them. Additionally, young e-cigarette users are almost three times more likely to use traditional cigarettes later in life.

Given the urgency of the situation, the WHO recommends urgent measures to prevent the uptake of e-cigarettes and counter nicotine addiction. For countries where e-cigarettes are banned, the WHO advises strengthening the implementation of bans and monitoring to support public health interventions. In countries where e-cigarettes are permitted, strict regulations are necessary to reduce their appeal and harm, including banning flavors, limiting nicotine concentration, and imposing taxes.

Cessation strategies should be evidence-based and complement other tobacco control measures. Based on current evidence, the sale of e-cigarettes as consumer products for cessation purposes is not recommended, and governments should control their access and regulate them as medicines.

The tobacco industry, which profits from health destruction, is using e-cigarettes to influence policy-making and lobby against health policies. It promotes false evidence suggesting reduced harm while targeting children and non-smokers with its marketing tactics.

Strong, decisive action is imperative to prevent the uptake of e-cigarettes, considering the growing evidence of their use by children and adolescents and the associated health risks.

For more information, you can read the full WHO news release here.

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