25 countries now ban e-cigs, says World Health Organization

old map of the world - Boston Public Library 900x540E-cigarettes are banned by about one in eight of the globe’s nations, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

While 25 countries prohibit them altogether, a further 18 regulate them as tobacco products, and 12 treat them as medical products, says the international body in its 2015 Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic.

Analysing regulation of e-cigarettes and related technologies, which WHO terms “electronic nicotine delivery devices” (ENDS, or ENNDS for non-nicotine versions), the WHO also says that:

  • 17 include them in national legislation on smoke-free environments.
  • 13 cover e-cigarettes with national laws on advertising, promotion and sponsorship.
  • Nine require health warnings.


Very broadly, the WHO figures seem to back up those given earlier in the year by researchers at the Institute for Global Tobacco Control at the Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland.

They found that 70 out of 102 large countries have some form of e-cigarette regulation, and tend to control the products using existing laws relating to tobacco or nicotine.

What This Means: There are notable differences between the WHO and Johns Hopkins data, but these likely arise largely from the range of countries studied (the WHO’s membership of 194 nations includes virtually every one on Earth, while the university looked only at bigger countries).

It’s also worth noting that none of these figures include regional or local regulation, which – as we’re seeing in the U.S. particularly – can add up to a framework that’s not only every bit as restrictive as national law, but more complex too.

In any case, the precise numbers aren’t all that important. While the proportion of outright bans may be a gloomy reminder for the industry, the big takeaway from both the WHO and Johns Hopkins numbers is, surely, the reliance on tobacco models for e-cig regulation.

– Barnaby Page ECigIntelligence staff

Photo: Boston Public Library

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