The World Health Organization (WHO) has recently urged governments around the world to treat e-cigarettes on par with traditional tobacco and to ban all flavored e-cigarettes. This move could potentially affect the investments made by tobacco companies in tobacco alternatives.
While some researchers, advocates, and governments view e-cigarettes as a crucial tool in reducing deaths and diseases caused by tobacco, United Nations agencies are calling for “urgent action” to control them.
According to the WHO, there is insufficient evidence to confirm the effectiveness of e-cigarettes in helping smokers quit, and they are harmful to one’s health, potentially leading to nicotine addiction, particularly among non-smokers, children, and adolescents.
In global regions influenced by the WHO, the number of teenagers using e-cigarettes has surpassed that of adults. The WHO cites strong marketing tactics as a driving force behind the popularity of e-cigarettes.
The WHO has called for changes that include banning all additives, such as menthol, and implementing tobacco control measures on e-cigarettes, such as high taxes and restrictions on their use in public places.
The tobacco industry claims that e-cigarettes pose significantly fewer health risks than traditional tobacco and can help reduce the harms associated with smoking. However, the WHO has reported that e-cigarettes produce certain substances that are known to be carcinogenic and pose risks to heart and lung health.
The WHO’s stance on e-cigarettes could potentially undermine the future strategies of tobacco giants like Philip Morris International (PMI) and British American Tobacco, who are seeking to establish new sources of revenue by embracing tobacco alternatives in response to declining smoking rates and stringent regulations.
The recommendations put forth by the WHO are usually voluntarily adopted and implemented, as the organization does not have authoritative power over national regulations. However, the WHO’s stance on e-cigarettes could significantly impact the future of the tobacco industry and the use of e-cigarettes globally.