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Insights on WHO’s Standpoint on Vaping in the UK

Experts re-assessed the WHO's recent criticism of e-cigarettes such as vape, which pointed out the harm of these products branded as a "smoking alternative." According to the WHO, better regulation is needed to avoid "re-normalising smoking behaviour." On the other hand, experts have criticised WHO for failing to distinguish between nicotine and tobacco addiction.

The World Health Organisation's head declared e-cigarettes "hazardous" in their recent study on new and emerging goods. Professor John Britton, Director of the UK Centre for Tobacco & Alcohol Studies at the University of Nottingham, stated:  

"This report demonstrates that, sadly, the WHO still doesn't understand the fundamental difference between addiction to tobacco smoking, which kills millions of people every year, and addiction to nicotine, which doesn't."

He adds: "The WHO is also evidently still content with the hypocrisy of adopting a position which recommends the use of medicinal nicotine products to treat addiction to smoking, but advocates prohibition of consumer nicotine products which do the same thing, but better."

Several studies in the UK have revealed that e-cigarettes are far more effective than prescription in aiding a successful attempt to quit cigarette smoking than NRTs like patches and gum. Furthermore, Public Health England has long determined that e-cigarettes are 95 per cent less harmful than smoking.

The WHO's stance on e-cigarettes is misguided, as their advice may significantly impact how governments handle healthcare. They are propagating misinterpretations about the risk of e-cigarettes in comparison to smoking by continually opposing them.

Reevaluating Perspectives

If an adult smoker considers e-cigarettes as a possible aid to quit smoking and reads a story claiming that the World Health Organisation has labelled them "hazardous," they may immediately change their mind about going to a vaping UK shop.

This adult smoker doesn't realise that the WHO's stance on e-cigarettes is almost wholly based on the fear that they may "hook children on nicotine." This individual may now choose a less compelling option or continue to smoke based on advice that has little to no bearing on their situation.

Professor John Britton explains: "The WHO is right that non-smokers, especially children, should be discouraged from using any nicotine product. But for the more than one billion tobacco smokers in the world, electronic nicotine delivery systems are part of the solution, not the problem."

According to studies, regular e-cigarette usage among young people is extremely low, and those who use e-cigarettes regularly are virtually all current or former smokers. In addition, the usage of e-cigarettes among adult never-smokers has remained low.

While the WHO is right to promote strict regulation, they need to recognise the difference between combustible cigarettes and e-cigarettes such as vape. A cigarette smoker inhales nicotine and a slew of other chemicals that can cause serious respiratory diseases. In contrast, an e-cigarette involves a nicotine delivery device that does not contain the hazardous chemicals produced by tobacco combustion.

While nicotine is addictive, it is not linked to the same serious health risks as smoking, and the body's reaction to nicotine is similar to that of consuming caffeine.

Dr. Derek Yach, president of the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World, states: "The exceptional growth of next-generation devices offers the WHO a real opportunity to tackle combustible consumption once and for all. Over 100 million ex-smokers use reduced-risk products, and the WHO should be taking advantage of massive investment in the sector by encouraging governments to provide an incentivised regulatory framework to enable greater expansion."

Conclusion

Experts continue to hope that the WHO will reconsider its position on e-cigarettes. Instead, they must provide advice on effectively regulating these methods to safeguard non-smokers and children while also providing adult smokers with aid to stop smoking tobacco.

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