Smoking has become an accepted, but ultimately dangerous aspect of daily life around the world. Most people will try smoking when they are younger, during that rebellious stage of their teenage years, and some continue this habit for years to come. Over the past few years, it has become a habit which has gone from being tolerated by people internationally, to now being banned indoors through most of the world, as part of a hardline strategy to stop people smoking. This has been a hugely successful ban, with the percentage of people who smoke in the UK generally decreasing as the ban has become more accepted amongst the population over the seven years it has been in place.
Now begins what can be recognised as the next stage in the smoking debate, as the World Health Organisation (WHO) has called for e-cigarettes to be banned indoors, while also stressing the importance of creating tougher regulations over their public availability, such as vending machines, and on them being sold to minors.
E-cigarettes, or electronic cigarettes, are battery-powered vaporisers which emit a vapour which is mostly without nicotine. They can be flavoured for good taste, which makes the product more appealing to the user. When they were created, they were seen as a way of helping smokers get over their addiction by smoking what is seen as a nonthreatening product replacement.
However, reports that have surfaced from the UN’s health service body have indicated that there is reason to believe that the vapour which is emitted from the e-cigarettes may potentially harm foetuses and youths in their proximity. Additionally, due to the fruity flavours which the e-cigarettes contain, this is an appealing factor to young children which could cause them to begin smoking at a later age. A youth survey has shown that between 2011 and 2013, a quarter of a million teens and adolescents who had never smoked before had used an e-cigarette, three times the amount in 2011.
As with any debate, there are always elements to consider when looking at promoting a worldwide ban on e-cigarette advertisement and usage indoors. While the WHO have stressed that this is an important issue which needs to be dealt with swiftly and efficiently, there are still fears from those within the WHO and people in the public. These fears are that if e-cigarettes are banned indoors and aren’t as accessible, then smokers who are trying to quit will have a far greater difficulty in obtaining the means to stop smoking, and therefore may continue. It is these issues which will be discussed by the UN, and hopefully by that point, there will be greater knowledge of the true dangers surrounding e-cigarettes and the appropriate means to deal with the problem.
This debate is to be taken up at the UN during their meeting in Moscow in October, and it is still contentious as to whether it will lead to firm action. As there is no proven evidence to suggest that the vapour from e-cigarettes is threatening to bystanders or the smoker themselves, it remains to be seen whether any strong countermeasures will be taken, or whether they need to be taken at all. Despite this, regardless of the perspectives on this argument, if there was the possibility for a world where smoking was universally banned in all forms without any negative repercussions, that would be a better place to live in, indeed!