A statement released today – World No Tobacco Day – by the Forum of International Respiratory Societies has taken the extraordinary step of demanding a ban on all flavoured e-liquids, claiming that the products “have increased the appeal of e-cigarettes to young people” and are “normalising” smoking. The statement, published in the European Respiratory Journal, also claimed that e-cigarettes act as a “one way bridge” to smoking, in a revival of controversial “gateway” claims.
The lead author of the statement is Professor Thomas Ferkol, of Washington University in St Louis. Ferkol told the media, “Some people truly believe e-cigarettes could be used as a smoking cessation technique, but these products are also an entry to nicotine and tobacco use in young people.”
Following the same focus on nicotine use, the Forum’s press release announcing the statement complained that “nicotine use is rising, and in many places this is driven by electronic nicotine delivery systems”. In fact this is a controversial claim, as there is no evidence overall nicotine use is rising at all. The Forum also argues that vapour products should not be compared to smoked tobacco. Instead, they say, they should be compared to not using any tobacco products.
The Forum of International Respiratory Societies is not a global organisation, with only nine members, but it does have a presence on six continents. The release of this statement on World No Tobacco Day is in step with the World Health Organization’s position on reduced-harm nicotine products, but opposed by many experts who want smokers to have access to safer alternatives.