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E-cigarettes part of the solution in anti-smoking fight – scientists

A group of 53 leading scientists has warned the [b]World Health Organisation[/b] not to classify e-cigarettes as tobacco products, arguing that doing so would jeopardise a major opportunity to slash disease and deaths caused by smoking, reports [s]Reuters Health[/s]. The UN agency, which is currently assessing its position on the matter, has previously indicated it would favour applying similar restrictions to all nicotine-containing products. But, says the report, in an open letter to WHO director general Margaret Chan, the scientists from [b]Europe, North America, Asia[/b] and [b]Australia[/b] argued that low-risk products like e-cigarettes were ‘part of the solution’ in the fight against smoking, not part of the problem. But, the report says, the devices are controversial. Because they are so new there is a lack of long-term scientific evidence to support their safety and some fear they could be ‘gateway’ products to nicotine addiction and tobacco smoking – though the scientists said they were ‘unaware of any credible evidence that supports this conjecture’.

Experts in [b]South Africa[/b] say it is time to hike up tobacco taxes to save lives. ‘Higher taxes both increase government revenues and reduce consumption, making it the most cost-effective tobacco control measure available to governments,’ says Dr Yussuf Saloojee from the [b]National Council Against Smoking[/b]. ‘Despite this, tobacco tax is comparatively low in SA.’ According to a Health-e report, international bodies like the [b]WHO[/b] and the [b]World Bank[/b] say that tobacco taxes should equal at least 66% or 70% of retail prices. However, the tobacco tax rate in SA makes up about half of the retail price and has risen just 2% in the past 14 years.

[link url=http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/05/29/us-health-ecigarettes-idUSKBN0E912H20140529]Full Reuters Health report[/link]
[link url=http://www.health-e.org.za/2014/05/31/raise-tobacco-tax-save-lives-2]Full Health-e report[/link]

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