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E-cigarettes should not be sold or marketed to young people, experts warn

Respiratory experts say that e-cigarettes should be included in all smoke-free policies to protect young people and want flavourings to be banned.

E-cigarette

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Respiratory experts representing members of the Forum of International Respiratory Societies say that e-cigarettes should be subject to the same regulation as tobacco products

Selling e-cigarettes to young people should be banned worldwide, according to a position statement from an international group of respiratory experts[1].

E-cigarettes should also be regulated in the same way as tobacco products and be included in all smoke-free policies to protect the health of children and adolescents, they said.

The statement, published in European Respiratory Journal (online, 30 May 2018), also said that flavourings in e-cigarettes should be banned as well as all advertising targeting youths.

The recommendations are based on the experts’ claims that there is increasing evidence that young people who smoke e-cigarettes go on to smoke traditional cigarettes and are therefore at a greater risk of becoming life-long tobacco users. 

The statement said: “The product design, flavours, marketing, and perception of safety and acceptability have increased the appeal of electronic cigarettes to young people, thus leading to new generations addicted to nicotine.

“Moreover, there is growing evidence that electronic cigarettes in children and adolescents serve as a gateway to cigarette smoking.

“There can be no argument for harm reduction in children,” it added.

But a Public Health England evidence review, carried out in February 2018, found that “despite some experimentation among never smokers”, e-cigarettes “do not appear” to be undermining the long-term decline in cigarette smoking in the UK among young people.

However, the respiratory experts emphasised the need for more research into the health effects of electronic cigarettes and their use in different countries, highlighting that e-cigarettes contain potentially harmful ingredients that could lead to lung injury and chronic respiratory symptoms in users.

The signatories of the statement were doctors and scientists representing members of the Forum of International Respiratory Societies - a collaboration involving nine organisations from North and South America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia which promotes lung health worldwide.

The statement comes after the Pharmaceutical Journal uncovered that e-cigarette refills resembling children’s juice cartons, sweets or biscuits have gone on sale in the UK. 

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2018.20204944

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