The World Health Organization (WHO) categorically states that there is no evidence to suggest that e-cigarettes can effectively assist community smokers in quitting smoking. On the contrary, there is existing evidence that indicates e-cigarettes have a negative impact on public health.
E-cigarettes have been widely available on the market and extensively promoted among young people. Currently, 34 countries have implemented bans on the sales of e-cigarettes, while 88 countries lack any minimum age restrictions for purchasing e-cigarettes. Additionally, 74 countries have no regulations in place regarding these harmful products.
World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus emphasized that “children are being lured into smoking and may become addicted to nicotine at a young age. I urge countries to implement strict measures to prevent the use of e-cigarettes in order to protect their citizens, especially children and adolescents.
E-cigarettes, which contain highly addictive nicotine, are harmful to health. While we have not yet fully understood their long-term effects on health, it has been established that they produce harmful substances, some of which are considered carcinogens, while others increase the risk of heart and lung diseases. The use of e-cigarettes may also affect brain development, leading to learning and cognitive impairments in young people. Pregnant women exposed to e-cigarettes may have adverse effects on the development of the fetus. The toxic gases in e-cigarettes also pose risks to those around the users.
The usage of e-cigarettes among children aged 13-15 is reported in all regions of the World Health Organization. In Canada, the prevalence of e-cigarette use among individuals aged 16-19 has doubled between 2017 and 2022. Similarly, in the UK, the number of teenagers using e-cigarettes has tripled in the past three years.
Research consistently indicates that even brief exposure to social media content about e-cigarettes can potentially increase both the willingness to use these products and the positive attitude towards e-cigarettes. Young people who use e-cigarettes are nearly three times more likely to use traditional cigarettes in the future.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has called on countries to take urgent measures to prevent the use of e-cigarettes and nicotine addiction, as well as to implement comprehensive tobacco control methods that align with each country’s respective circumstances.
In countries where the sale of e-cigarettes is prohibited, the WHO urges stronger enforcement of such bans and continuous monitoring to support public health interventions and ensure strict compliance. In countries where the sale of e-cigarettes as consumer products (including sales, imports, distribution, and production) is permitted, the WHO emphasizes the need for strict regulations to reduce their attractiveness and harm to the public. This includes the prohibition of all flavors, limitations on nicotine concentration and content, as well as taxation.
The strategy for smoking cessation should be based on the best available evidence and should be accompanied by other tobacco control measures, and it should be monitored and evaluated. According to the current evidence, the government should not allow the sales of e-cigarettes as consumer products in order to achieve the goal of smoking cessation.
Any government that adopts an e-cigarette smoking cessation strategy must regulate the conditions of product exposure to ensure proper clinical conditions and manage drug products (including requiring them to be distributed as pharmaceuticals). Even in such strict forms, the decision to pursue e-cigarettes as a means to achieve smoking cessation goals should only be made after reviewing domestic conditions, as well as examining smoking risks and proven cessation strategies.
Due to the growing prevalence of e-cigarette use, which has been found to have harmful effects on the health of children and adolescents, decisive action must be taken to prevent the use of e-cigarettes.