NEW E-INHALATION PRODUCTS AND POTENTIAL HEALTH RISKS: THE CASE FOR REGULATION
Martina Pötschke-Langer and Dr. Katrin Schaller. Unit of Cancer Prevention, WHO Collaborating Centre for Tobacco Control, German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ)
E-cigarettes are rapidly evolving. More and more new products which are very attractive to youth appear on the market. Several e-cigarettes as well as liquids are obviously designed for young people. Electronic inhalation products are no safe products: nicotine containing products are addictive; the main ingredient of the liquids, propylene glycol, may cause irritations of the respiratory system, some flavours may cause allergic reactions and the long-term health effects of repeated inhalation are unknown. Moreover, several carcinogenic substances have been found in the aerosol of e-cigarettes. To protect youth against a potentially addictive lifestyle product that may harm health on the long term, strong regulation is necessary.
The European Tobacco Products Directive 2014/40/EU for the first time includes regulation on e-cigarettes. The directive provides a regulatory framework which has to completed by more precise provisions, such as descriptions of the package, a clear description of the refill containers as well as a list of flavours to be banned.
The regulation of e-cigarettes by directive 2014/40/EU will improve consumer protection, but leaves aside protection of youth, bystanders and environment. Therefore, additional measures should be taken. To improve youth protection, a sales ban to minors, a standardized product design and packaging as well as a ban of flavours that are attractive to youth should be introduced. To protect bystanders against emissions, the use of e-cigarettes should be banned in smoke-free areas. As e-cigarettes and refill containers will cause environmental harm when e-cigarettes will be used on a large scale, manufacturers should be obliged to repurchase the products.
In sum, the regulatory framework should make e-cigarettes attractive only to smokers, but not to youth.
Martina Pötschke-Langer is Medical Doctor and Master of Science in German literature and German history. She was educated at the University of Heidelberg. Since 1997 she is Head of the Unit of Cancer Prevention in the German Cancer Research Center with special focus on tobacco prevention and tobacco control research in Germany. Since 1999 she is advisor to the World Health Organization. In 2002 the Unit Cancer Prevention was designated as WHO Collaborating Centre for Tobacco Control so that she is also Head of the WHO CC. In 2000 she founded and edited the “Red Series Tobacco Prevention and Control”, a publication series of the German Cancer Research Center, in which more than 60 publications have been released about tobacco control strategies. Also numerous peer-reviewed articles were published. The legislation on nonsmokers protection in Germany was mainly based on this work. She is recipient of the World Health Organization’s Tobacco Free World Award for outstanding contributions to public health in 1999, 2007 and 2011 and is recipient of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany for cancer prevention and nonsmokers’ rights initiatives in 2007.