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Updated December 19th, 2023 at 23:13 IST

WHO urges countries to treat e-cigarettes as tobacco, ban all flavours

Vapes or e-cigarettes were banned in 34 countries, including India in July this year.

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single-use, disposable electronic cigarettes
Disposable e-cigarettes are small, battery-powered devices that deliver vaporised nicotine with various flavourings | Image:AP
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Taking a strong step, the World Health Organization (WHO) has stressed upon various countries to treat e-cigarettes, similarly to tobacco and ban all flavours. This development  could cast a doom for some major tobacco companies, which have staked their futures on a shift to cigarette alternatives. Sample this: British American Tobacco, wants 50% of its revenues to come from “non-combustible” products by 2035.

Vapes, another name for e-cigarettes, were banned in 34 countries in July of this year, according to the WHO, including Brazil, India, Iran and Thailand. 
However,  several countries are struggling to enforce rules related to e-cigarettes. This lack of regulation also leads to availability of e-cigarettes in the black market. 74 countries, mostly in Africa but including Pakistan, Colombia and Mongolia, did not regulate e-cigarettes at all as of July, according to the WHO. In other nations, including key markets like the US and China, governments allow vapes but regulate their use. While Australians need a prescription to use nicotine-containing e-cigarettes, but the country has struggled with a flood of illegal disposable vapes. 
China, which is the world’s largest producer of e-cigarettes introduced clutch of laws controlling their use domestically in 2021, including banning the flavoured products many Chinese manufacturers continue to send overseas. The government cited health concerns related to youth vaping. E-cigarette companies require a license to sell to consumers and taxes on production, import and wholesale distribution were introduced in 2022.

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The European Union and members of the European Commission has formulated a set regulatory standards for e-cigarettes, including limits on nicotine content and labels explaining they should not be used by non-smokers. National governments also introduce laws governing their use. In France, people under the age of 18 cannot buy vapes and their use is banned in certain public places, including universities and on public transport. Italy lifted a ban on using electronic cigarettes in public in 2013. Use in or near schools is still forbidden. Disposable vapes have also attracted particular attention from lawmakers in some EU countries amid environmental and health concerns. France has moved to ban them entirely. The German Federal Council, the upper house of parliament, has called on the government to push for a similar ban on disposable vapes across the EU. JAPAN E-cigarettes containing nicotine count as medicinal products under Japanese law. None have yet been approved for use.

 

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Published December 19th, 2023 at 23:13 IST

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