Intended for healthcare professionals


Regulation of electronic cigarettes

BMJ 2014; 349 doi: (Published 05 September 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g5484
  1. John R Ashton, president
  1. 1UK Faculty of Public Health, 4 St Andrews Place, London NW1 4LB
  1. president{at}

A familiar clash between commercial politics and public health

The World Health Organization statement on electronic nicotine delivery systems (electronic cigarettes)1 was met with apparent disagreement from both Public Health England (PHE) and Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), a UK public health charity.2 WHO, supported by many professional bodies,3 4 calls for regulations that impede the promotion of e-cigarettes, minimise their potential health risks, prohibit unproved health claims, and ban their use indoors. By contrast, PHE and ASH, which have been more positive about them, do not support a ban on their use indoors.

Many critics of WHO’s position are from the harm reduction community and see e-cigarettes as a useful contributor to tobacco control efforts. But these critics seem unable to decide whether e-cigarettes are a short term medical aid to quitting smoking or a …

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