The World Health Organization says the employment of e-cigarettes, often marketed as a way to quit smoking, pose “serious threats” to children and should be tightly regulated. Reuters

The World Health Organization, or WHO, is the latest health agency to call for stricter regulations on electronic cigarettes, popularly known as e-cigarettes or e-cigs. The United Nations agency suggested banning indoor use of e-cigarettes and prohibiting flavors that appeal to children in a recently released report (PDF). By turning a liquid nicotine solution into vapor that can be inhaled, e-cigs pose a risk to nonusers who may be exposed to the vapors, WHO said.

“In summary, existing evidence shows that [e-cigarette] aerosol is not merely ‘water vapor’ as is often claimed in the marketing for these products,” WHO said in its report, which representatives of U.N. member states are scheduled to review at a meeting in Moscow in October. “[E-cigarette] use poses serious threats to adolescents and fetuses. In addition, it increases exposure of nonsmokers and bystanders to nicotine and a number of toxicants.”

WHO also expressed concern over so-called Big Tobacco advertising e-cigarettes to minors and people who want to quit smoking, as has often been the case. The agency said the claim that e-cigs can help smokers kick the habit should not be allowed until there is convincing evidence they do.

The American Heart Association has also advocated regulating e-cigarettes. The organization is “fiercely committed to preventing the tobacco industry from addicting another generation of smokers,” it said Sunday.