Today has been a good day for the e-cigarette industry with the first strike against regulation of e-cigarettes, not from a e-cigarette company, but from scientists and doctors.

A letter signed by more than 50 researchers and public health specialists is urging the World Health Organization (WHO) to "resist the urge to control and suppress e-cigarettes".

The letter says the devices could be a "significant health innovation".

The WHO said it was still deciding what recommendations to make to governments.The open letter has been organised in the run-up to significant international negotiations on tobacco policy this year.

Supporters of e-cigarettes, who argue the products are a low-risk substitute for smoking, fear they might become subject to reduction targets and advertising bans.

The letter has been signed by 53 researchers - including specialists in public health policy and experts such as Prof Robert West, who published research last week suggesting that e-cigarettes are more likely to help people give up smoking than some conventional methods.

Open letter to the WHO

Some of the signatories work on research into tobacco science and smoking cessation. Three were involved in advising the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) on its guidelines about reducing the harm from tobacco.

The letter says: "These products could be among the most significant health innovations of the 21st Century - perhaps saving hundreds of millions of lives.

"If regulators treat low-risk nicotine products as traditional tobacco products... they are improperly defining them as part of the problem.

"Regulators should avoid support for measures that could have the perverse effect of prolonging cigarette consumption.

"We are deeply concerned that the classification of these products as tobacco will do more harm than good.

"The potential for tobacco harm reduction products to reduce the burden of smoking-related disease is very large."

The WHO treaty on tobacco control currently covers 178 countries and 90% of the world's population.

Prof West, of University College London told the BBC e-cigarettes should be "regulated appropriate to what they are" and that they are "orders of magnitude safer" than tobacco cigarettes.

He called for "bespoke regulation", including banning sales for under-18s and having marketing directed at those who already smoke.

 

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Read the full article here at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-27547420