Delegates from 148 parties to the World Health Organization's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control are calling for new heated tobacco products on the market to be regulated in the same way cigarettes and other tobacco products are.
Heated tobacco products (HTPs) are not e-cigarettes. They are products that contain nicotine and other chemicals, which are inhaled by users, through the mouth. The tobacco industry markets these devices as being less harmful than regular cigarettes.
But the head of the convention secretariat, Vera da Costa e Silva, said there was no evidence that HTPs are less harmful than conventional tobacco products. She said they are tobacco products in the same way as cigarettes and should be subject to the same regulations imposed on standard tobacco products under the treaty.
"Governments should implement ... a ban on advertisement, promotion and sponsorship" of heated tobacco products, da Costa said. "Parties to the treaty are legally bound to the provisions of the treaty and they should regulate heated tobacco accordingly."
Da Costa told VOA the tobacco industry is marketing heated tobacco products as a harm-reduction strategy. She said many are sold with flavors, which appeal to young people. For now, she said, the products are mainly being marketed in developed countries.
"But they are already being marketed very aggressively with high lobbying, and there are many, many concerns," she said. "Lots of concerns raised by African countries, Latin American countries, Asian countries that do not feel they are prepared for this epidemic of heated tobacco products."
Da Costa said evidence is accumulating that the nicotine inhaled from HTPs is unhealthy, causing dependence and disease. The long-term health impact from vaping is not yet clear. But the World Health Organization notes illnesses related to regular tobacco products prematurely kill more than 7 million people every year.