Tobacco Free Initiative (TFI)

Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) or electronic nicotine delivery systems

Statement revised on 3 June 2014

GENEVA - Electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), of which electronic cigarettes are the most common prototype, are devices that do not burn or use tobacco leaves but instead vaporise a solution the user then inhales. The main constituents of the solution, in addition to nicotine when nicotine is present, are propylene glycol, with or without glycerol and flavouring agents. ENDS solutions and emissions contain other chemicals, some of them considered to be toxicants.

Although some e-cigarettes look like tobacco products (e.g. cigarettes, cigars, cigarillos, pipes, hookahs, or shishas), they may be produced in the form of everyday items such as pens, USB memory sticks or larger cylindrical or rectangular devices.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is currently reviewing the existing evidence around ENDS and preparing a paper for submission to the meeting of the Parties of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which occurs later this year. WHO is also working with national regulatory bodies to look at regularity options as well as toxicology experts to understand more about the impact ENDS may have on health.