In a story widely covered by major news outlets and healthcare news sites, the World Health Organization has issued a report that calls for a ban on indoor e-cigarette use and stronger regulations to keep minors from using the devices, among other recommendations. Most stories also mentioned the recent policy statement from the American Heart Association urging stronger FDA regulation of e-cigarettes.
The New York Times (8/26, B3, Jolly, Tavernise, Subscription Publication) reports that the WHO paper “summarizes the growing body of evidence on the health impact of electronic cigarettes,” and was written in preparation for the United Nations Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in October. The article notes that “the organization has no power to enforce its recommendations, but delegates to the meeting could, in theory, endorse the measures for inclusion in a treaty or call for yet more studies before taking further action.”
The Wall Street Journal (8/26, Esterl, Evans, Subscription Publication) reports that the WHO called for restrictions on advertising and notes particular concern on the growing role of large tobacco companies in the e-cigarette industry. Phillip Morris responded that the agency was calling for industry to be forced out of the policy making process. British American Tobacco PLC also said that overly restrictive regulations would hinder the industry and the public health benefits it could provide.
According to the Los Angeles Times (8/27, Raab), the report recommends “advertising for e-cigarettes shouldn’t be allowed to make health claims – including claims that the devices help people quit traditional smoking – unless such claims are borne out by clinical trials,” that “marketing for e-cigarettes shouldn’t target children or people who don’t already use nicotine,” and urging that “fruit, candy-like and alcoholic-drink flavors” be banned.
The AP (8/27, Heilprin) reports that e-cigarette “sales are banned in 13 of the 59 countries that regulate the devices, the WHO reported, but most of those 13 countries say they are still available because of illicit trade and cross-border Internet sales.”