A few experts from the world’s leading lung organizations have released a public position statement on e-cigarettes, focusing on their potential side effects on human health and calling on governments to ban or restrict their use until their health impacts are better assessed.

FIRS logo‘The gravity of tobacco use on global health and the historical behavior of the tobacco industry that has included deceit about the health effects of tobacco, intentional marketing to children, and manipulating nicotine levels in cigarettes to maintain addiction should prompt us to proceed cautiously,’ said Dean Schraufnagel, MD, professor of medicine and pathology at the University of Chicago in the release. ‘Nicotine is central to lifelong addiction, and these are nicotine delivery devices.’

Produced by the Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS), the position statement has been presented on July 9, at convention hosted by FIRS and the NCD Alliance, ‘Shared Drivers, Shared Solutions: NCDs, Lung Health and Sustainable Development.’ The meeting The meeting coincided with the United Nations High-Level Review on the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases on July 10-11 that included chronic respiratory illness and also COPD, the third-leading cause of death worldwide, for the first time.

The position of Forum of International Respiratory Societies on electronic nicotine delivery devices includes:

  • The safety of electronic cigarettes has not been adequately demonstrated.
  • The addictive influence of nicotine and its effects should not be underestimated.
  • The potential benefits of electronic nicotine delivery devices, including harm reduction and as an aid to smoking cessation, have not been well-studied.
  • Potential benefits to an individual smoker should be weighed against harm to the population of increased social acceptability of smoking and use of nicotine.
  • Health and safety claims regarding electronic nicotine delivery devices should be subject to evidentiary review.
  • Adverse health effects for third parties exposed to the emissions of electronic cigarettes cannot be excluded.
  • Electronic nicotine delivery devices should be restricted or banned, at least until more information about their safety is available.
  • If electronic nicotine delivery devices are permitted, they should be regulated as medicines and subject to the same evidentiary review of other medicines.
  • If electronic nicotine delivery devices are not regulated as medicines, they should be regulated as tobacco products.
  • Research, supported by sources other than the tobacco or electronic cigarette industry, should be carried out to determine the impact of electronic nicotine delivery devices on health in a wide variety of settings.
  • The use and population effects of electronic nicotine delivery devices should be monitored.
  • All information derived from this research should be conveyed to the public in a clear manner.

Established in 2001, FIRS is an organization that includes the world’s leading respiratory societies, including the American Thoracic Society, the Asociación Latinoamericana del Thorax, the American College of Chest Physicians, the Asian Pacific Society of Respirology, the European Respiratory Society, the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, and the Pan African Thoracic Society.

However, it seems that the organization does not embrace the concept of ‘innocent until proven guilty’ and ignores all the recent studies that come to show how these devices can actually help smokers give up on tobacco and live a longer and much healthier life.