The Royal Environmental Health Institute for Scotland (REHIS) has also asked ministers to prohibit the sale of e-cigarettes to anyone under the age of 18.E-cigarettes, which generate a vapour containing nicotine as a tobacco substitute, were initially released as a device to help smokers quit, but the REHIS fears the huge rise in users could normalise smoking, and undo decades of anti-smoking education and campaigning.The warnings follow research suggesting e-cigarettes may be encouraging people to take up smoking.
The research, carried out by Mississippi State University, showed the vast majority of young adults who have used the devices believe they are less harmful than cigarettes, despite the absence of any evidence that they are a safe alternative.
Speaking before the organisation’s annual conference in Edinburgh, REHIS President Colin Wallace also backed the decision to ban the use of e-cigarettes at Commonwealth Games venues in Glasgow, and called for adverts for the devices to be banned from the event.
He said: “Recent research has shown that the use of e-cigarettes has rocketed over the past few years. However, there are still serious questions to be answered on the long-term health implications of these devices. We fully back the decision to ban e-cigarettes from Commonwealth Games venues but it needs to go further.“Organisations such as ScotRail, Starbucks and Wetherspoon pubs have already banned their use and we would like to see that being adopted in every public place.“The advertising of these products is also a concern. If no steps are taken to regulate the promotion of e-cigarettes, including displays and advertising at points of sale, there is a real danger that the successful outcomes of years of anti-smoking campaigning and education may be lost.”
Mr Wallace said the manufacture of the devices was unregulated and users could not be sure what they are using, or what level of nicotine dose they are ingesting.
Health charity Ash released figures this week which suggested the number of adults in Britain using the devices has increased from 700,000 in 2012 to 2.1 million this year.Amanda Sandford, research manager for ASH, said the group did not advocate an outright ban on using the devices in public places, as it could be “counterproductive” in helping smokers quit, but added: “We do see the rationale behind banning sales to under-18s, as nicotine is an additive drug, and we do support that.”
A spokeswoman for Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games said e-cigarette companies would not be allowed to advertise at venues.
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said electronic cigarettes needed regulation, and should never be promoted to young people.
She added: “We are exploring what more can be done in Scotland now that the European Tobacco Products Directive has set out its measures for regulation and we will consider all available options to protect public health, particularly young people, from the promotion of smoking behaviours.”
By: Rod Mills
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