E-cigarettes are ‘not safe’ and are harmful to wellbeing, global health chiefs warned.
In a series of strongly worded tweets, they said there is not enough evidence that the devices should be used by people who are trying to quit smoking.
Vaping is particularly risky for the developing brains of teenagers and can damage babies in the womb, added the World Health Organisation.
It warned that e-cigarettes expose non-smokers to nicotine and other harmful chemicals, and may pose a risk through ‘second-hand’ vaping to people not using the devices.
In a tweet, the WHO said: ‘E-cigarettes are harmful to health and are not safe. They are particularly risky when used by adolescents. Nicotine is highly addictive and young people’s brain’s develop up to their mid-twenties. Exposure to nicotine can have long-lasting, damaging effects.’
It recommended ‘safer’ products like nicotine patches and gum to help give up the habit.
The organisation, which has previously raised concerns about cancer-causing chemicals in e-cigarettes, has also uploaded a new Q&A section on its website.
It goes on to suggest that governments should tax the devices similarly to cigarettes and ban them inside public places and workplaces.
The WHO stated that 15,000 e-cigarette flavours are available, including bubblegum and candyfloss, which are ‘designed to attract young people’.
It warned that the health risks of vaping include heart disease and lung disorders, citing an outbreak of vaping-related illness in the US.
More than 2,400 people have been hospitalised with lung injury and 52 people have died.
The devices are banned in over 30 countries but Public Health England continues to insist they are 95 per cent safer than conventional cigarettes.
It said the evidence on vaping is kept under review but smoking ‘accounts for almost 220 deaths in England every day’.