According to a World Health Organization (WHO) report, countries are being urged to curb the use of e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation aid because of the lack of evidence that it helps people quit smoking. Many in the public health community, however, disagree with the agency’s suggestion, which was stated in a meeting in India.
The meeting was for the 180 countries that make up the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, a resistance effort against Big Tobacco to prevent the millions of deaths every year caused by smoking. Critics of the WHO recommendation say it is a “backward step” in the fight to reduce tobacco-related deaths, The Guardian reports.
WHO also encourages countries to ban vaping in public areas where smoking is not allowed. It is also pushing for health warnings about chemicals in the liquid nicotine used in e-cigarettes, and supports the requirement of information on the addictive nature of nicotine, as well as banning claims that e-cigarettes help people quit smoking.
The chemicals in e-cigarettes can pose a major health risk to users. The liquid has been found to contain diacetyl and 2,3 pentanedione (a diacetyl substitute), chemicals that produce a buttery or creamy flavoring. It can also be found in microwave popcorn, flavored coffee, ready-to-mix desserts, oil sprays, and many more processed products.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), diacetyl is considered perfectly safe to eat in trace amounts. However, Dr. Ann Hubbs, a medical officer with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said, “safe enough to eat does not mean you can breathe it.”
When diacetyl is inhaled, consumers become at risk for developing obliterative bronchiolitis, a serious lung disease that is also known as “popcorn lung” for the microwave popcorn plant workers who developed the lung disease in 2000. Obliterative bronchiolitis is a disease where the smallest airways of the lungs become scarred and restricted with symptoms that are very similar to that of COPD. It is only treatable by lung transplant.