Vaping could be banned in the UK following recommendations set out by the World Health Organisation.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has set out plans to prohibit e-cigarettes due to fears users could replace ingredients with other harmful substances, The Sun on Sunday reports.
Clive Bates, a tobacco harm expert and the former director of anti-smoking group ASH, told the publication the advice is 'irresponsible and bizarre', and will ultimately 'protect the cigarette trade'.
The potential ban was detailed in a report published by WHO's tobacco regulatory committee, and will be discussed later this year at a conference in Glasgow.
Vaping could be banned in the UK following recommendations set out by the World Health Organisation (Stock image)
The report warned vapes which allow the user to change the devices liquid ingredients could allow for dangerous substances to be added, making the e-cigarettes more harmful.
A report commissioned Public Health England (PHE) and published earlier this week found that smoking remains the largest single risk factor for death and ill-health in England.
The research, from King's College London, found nicotine delivery devices play a crucial role in helping Brits quit smoking, with vaping products the most popular aid used by smokers trying to quit in England last year.
The report estimated that in 2017, more than 50,000 smokers stopped with the help of vaping products and that incorrect perceptions of its relative risks compared to smoking regular cigarettes may be discouraging smokers from using vaping to quit.
What is an e-cigarette and how is it different to smoking tobacco?
An electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) is a device that allows users to inhale nicotine by heating a vapour from a solution that contain nicotine, propylene and flavourings.
As there is no burning involved, there is no smoke like a traditional cigarette.
But while they have been branded as carrying a lower risk than cigarettes, an increasing swell of studies is showing health dangers.
E-cigarettes do not produce tar or carbon monoxide, but the vapor does contain some harmful chemicals.
Nicotine is the highly addictive chemical which makes it difficult for smokers to quit.
Nearly three million people in Britain use e-cigarettes, and more than nine million Americans.
Professor Ann McNeill, Professor of Tobacco Addiction at King's College London, warned that smokers from disadvantaged groups are more likely to be wary of vaping and less likely to use the aids to quit.
'What is concerning is that smokers, particularly those from disadvantaged groups, incorrectly and increasingly believe that vaping is as harmful as smoking', said McNeill. 'This is not true and means fewer smokers try vaping.'
Professor John Newton, Director of Health Improvement at PHE, said: 'Smoking is still the leading preventable cause of premature death and disease – killing almost 75,000 people in England in 2019.
'The best thing that a smoker can do is to stop smoking completely and the evidence shows that vaping is one of the most effective quit aids available, helping around 50,000 smokers quit a year.
'Thousands more could have quit except for unfounded safety fears about e-cigarettes.
'The evidence has been clear for some time that, while not risk-free vaping is far less harmful than smoking.
'For anyone who smokes, particularly those who have already tried other methods, we strongly recommend they try vaping and stop smoking – ideally with additional support from their local stop smoking service for the very best chance of quitting for good.'
Despite evidence that vaping is the most useful aid to quit smoking, government backed research published in September 2020 revealed the risks posed by inhaling flavouring ingredients are still ‘unknown’.
The independent Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment (COT) said e-cigarettes should only be used as a stop-smoking aid.
The report warned users who do not already use tobacco products ‘risk negative effects on their health’ by vaping.
Health threats to bystanders were considered low but people can suffer an increased heart rate from high nicotine exposure, if stood close to someone vaping, it said.
Professor Alan Boobis, Chair of the COT, said it was wrong to consider the devices as ‘harmless’.