Ban e-cigarettes in restaurants and workplaces, says World Health Organisation

UN also wants to ban sweet and fruit-flavoured e-cigarettes

Health Correspondent

Electronic cigarettes should be banned inside cafes, restaurants and workplaces, and should not be advertised to children and non-smokers, the World Health Organisation has said.

In a long-awaited report, the United Nations’ health agency resisted calls from many experts to soften their approach to e-cigarettes, recommending a raft of measures to curb their use, while also warning over the growing influence of the tobacco industry in the "e-cig" market.

The report also said that e-cigarettes which are flavoured to taste like fruit, sweets and alcoholic drinks should be banned, amid fears they encourage children to use the products.

Millions of people now use e-cigarettes worldwide, but public health experts remain divided over their potential harms and benefits. Studies have suggested that they help people to quit smoking, but the WHO said that there was currently “insufficient evidence” to prove their benefit.

The recommendations on indoor use in public places go further than existing regulations in most countries. The vapour produced by e-cigarettes is known to be considerably less harmful than tobacco smoke, but the WHO said there were still concerns over the nicotine and other toxicants produced. 

The Department of Health said that no such ban was planned in England, but measures to curb e-cigarette use in public places are already under consideration in Wales, which has taken a harder line against the products. The UK Government already plans to ban e-cigarette sales to under 18s.

From 2016, changes to the way e-cigarettes are regulated will see some authorised as medicines if manufacturers can prove their therapeutic benefits. Some experts have called for them to made available free on the NHS as quit-smoking aids.

Tobacco companies which manufacture e-cigarettes, including British America Tobacco, are understood to be among the companies seeking medicines licencing from the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) - raising the possibility that NHS money could end up going to tobacco manufacturers.

In their report, the WHO issued a strong warning over the tobacco industry’s involvement in the e-cigarette market.

“No matter what role the tobacco industry plays in the production, distribution and sale of electronic nicotine delivery systems, this industry, its allies and front-groups can never be considered to be a legitimate public health partner or stakeholder while it continues to profit from tobacco and its products or represents the interests of the industry,” the report said.

While acknowledging that e-cigarettes carried “promise” in terms of controlling tobacco use, the WHO said that manufacturers should be banned from making health claims for their products until they had provided scientific evidence which had been approved by regulators.

In the UK, more than two million people are believed to be using e-cigarettes. A recent study by one of the UK’s leading smoking cessation experts suggested the products are more effective than nicotine patches and gum at helping people to quit smoking. Professor Robert West of University College London, said that the evidence did not support the WHO’s claims that e-cigarettes posed a significant risk to bystanders.

“These devices are not just a bit safer than smoking; there is good reason to believe they are much safer – and that is what smokers need to know,” he told The Independent.

Leading anti-smoking charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), has backed e-cigarettes’ use as quit-smoking aids. Hazel Cheeseman, the charity’s director of policy and research said that there was “no evidence” that e-cigarette vapour could harm bystanders and called for regulation to be “proportionate”.

“Smoking kills 100,000 people in the UK alone. Smokers who switch to using electronic cigarettes in whole or in part are likely to substantially reduce their health risks. Although we cannot be sure that electronic cigarettes are completely safe, as the WHO acknowledges, they are considerably less harmful than smoking tobacco and research suggests that they are already helping smokers to quit,” she said.

A Department of Health spokesperson said: "More and more people are using e-cigarettes and we want to make sure they are properly regulated so we can be sure of their safety.

“We have already set out our intention to change the law to ban the sale of e-cigarettes to children under 18. The UK has an existing licensing system for higher strength products and those that claim to help people quit. We are also bringing in new European rules to cover lower strength products which will ban most advertising, limit nicotine levels and set standards for ingredients, labelling and packaging.”

Arts and Entertainment
Joe Cocker performing on the Stravinski hall stage during the Montreux Jazz Festival, in Montreux, Switzerland in 2002
musicHe 'turned my song into an anthem', says former Beatle
Clarke Carlisle
footballStoke City vs Chelsea match report
Arts and Entertainment
David Hasselhof in Peter Pan
theatreThe US stars who've taken to UK panto, from Hasselhoff to Hall
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
newsIt was due to be auctioned off for charity
Coca-Cola has become one of the largest companies in the world to push staff towards switching off their voicemails, in a move intended to streamline operations and boost productivity
peopleCoca-Cola staff urged to switch it off to boost productivity
Sir David Attenborough
environment... as well as a plant and a spider
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Austen Lloyd: Regulatory / Compliance / Exeter

    Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: Exeter - An excellent opportunity for a Solici...

    Ashdown Group: IT Support Technician - 12 Month Fixed Term - Shrewsbury

    £17000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Helpdesk Support Technician - 12 ...

    The Jenrick Group: Maintenance Planner

    £28000 - £32000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Maintenance...

    The Jenrick Group: World Wide PLC Service Engineer

    £30000 - £38000 per annum + pesion + holidays: The Jenrick Group: World Wide S...

    Day In a Page

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
    The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

    The 12 ways of Christmas

    We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
    Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

    The male exhibits strange behaviour

    A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
    Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

    Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

    Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

    The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'