August 26, 2014 4:47 pm

WHO urges tighter regulation of e-cigarettes

WATCH: The World Health Organization is raising the alarm of over e-cigarettes, calling for restrictions including a ban on using them indoors. Robin Gill explains.

TORONTO – The World Health Organization is calling for the stricter regulation of electronic cigarettes, including banning the sale of devices to minors and from use indoors.

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In a report issued on Tuesday, the U.N. health agency recommended the ban on indoor use until it can be proven the exhaled vapor poses no harm to bystanders. It also said countries should take steps to either prohibit or keep advertising of e-cigarette products to a minimum.

E-cigarettes have often been marketed as a healthy alternative to smoking or as an aid to quit smoking. The popular smoking devices have come under fire from government and health officials who say more research is needed about the effects of the vapor.

READ MORE: Medical officer recommends Toronto ban e-cigarettes

E-cigarettes are battery-operated devices that imitate real cigarettes but don’t contain tobacco and have a significantly smaller amount of nicotine and other chemicals.

The WHO report said the global market for e-cigarettes is “apparently booming” with $3 billion in sales and more than 400 brands. The rapid growth of the industry and use around the world means more regulation is needed, the Geneva-based agency said.

Additional regulations include minimizing the emissions of toxicants and banning fruit or candy-like flavours until more “evidence shows that they are not attractive to minors.”

Regulation in Canada

Currently there is little regulation of e-cigarette use in Canada, with the latest guidelines from Health Canada being issued in 2009.

Electronic cigarettes fall under the Food and Drugs Act, with the federal health agency advising Canadians not to buy or use the products as they have not been fully evaluated.

READ MORE: U.S. officials want to regulate e-cigarettes – is Canada following?

In Ontario, Premier Kathleen Wynne says more research on the issue needs to be done before banning electronic cigarettes in areas where smoking is already off-limits.

At the municipal level, cities like Toronto recently voted in favour of banning e-cigarettes from city buildings based on a recommendation from the city’s chief medical officer.

© Shaw Media, 2014

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