'Vaping' not as safe as people think warns WHO

'Vaping' not as safe as people think warns WHO
Copyright REUTERS
By Lucia Riera Bosqued
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WHO warns of the danger of electronic cigarettes, increasingly consumed by young people and enormously addictive.


The trend of electronic cigarettes is becoming a real danger to public health, warned the International Health Organisation (WHO).

E-cigarettes are run on an electronic system that simulates a traditional cigarette, with the goal in many cases of helping someone quit smoking. However, the WHO warned that e-cigarettes are harmful to health since they contain addictive liquids with big doses of nicotine and other toxic substances. Several studies concluded that the majority of users vape and smoke traditional cigarettes simultaneously.

WHO warned that e-cigarettes are opening a new door to addiction for the youth. There are already 367 million users versus 1.1 billion conventional smokers. This week, eight youth in Wisconsin were hospitalised with severe damage to their lungs due to vaping.

In the case of Spain, there were more than half a million e-cigarette users according to the Union of Vaping Promoters and Entrepreneurs (UPEV), pointing to a sustained annual 25% growth since the adoption of the European directive regulating e-cigarettes in 2014.

A public health problem

The battle started in 2005 against tobacco consumption in Spain is being lost due to the lack of conscience and monitoring of compliance with the law in public establishments. Also, there is no existing regulation on the use of e-cigarettes in closed spaces.

In the past few years, big tobacco companies have been “aggressively” commercialising e-cigarettes to potential new clients, said the WHO, this has become “a threat” since in addition to nicotine, these products contain metal aerosols and carbon monoxide that harm the heart and lungs.

Presently, more than 38 million people smoke e-cigarettes. In 2011, there were about six million consumers, in 2021 this number is supposed to climb up to 55 million. Vaping is easier to sell than regular cigarettes because it is seen as being less harmful than the latter. Additionally, e-cigarettes are small and easy to hide, that’s why the number of people that try them is on the rise.

Multiple studies show how dangerous it is for young people that start to vape to become regular smokers. The variety of flavours and the social tolerance of e-cigarettes normalise their use.

Spain’s National Committee for the Prevention of Cigarette Smoking (CNPT) presented last year in the European Parliament a statement calling for an increase in the price of products containing nicotine, to reach €10 per cigarette pack. According to WHO, a 10% increase in taxes reduces tobacco consumption by approximately 4% in high-income countries and 5% in medium or low-income countries.

France has already put this in practice by increasing the price of a cigarette pack to €8 with the aim of reaching €10 by 2020. The result has been that more than one million French people have stopped smoking.

Other countries like the United Kingdom have also increased the price of cigarettes to around €10 per pack and in Australia, the price has reached €20.

Tobacco kills more than eight million people a year

The seventh WHO report on the global cigarette smoking epidemic revealed that there have been advances in the fight against tobacco but that it remains necessary to increase the measures (such as those stipulated in the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control) to help smokers quit for good.

According to WHO, tobacco kills half of its consumers — that’s more than eight million people every year, with 1.2 million being passive smokers. Additionally, WHO estimates that almost 80% of the more than one billion smokers in the world live in low and middle-income countries.

"In 2017, tobacco killed 3.3 million consumers and people exposed to secondhand smoke due to lung disease.”

“Tobacco smoke contains more than 4000 chemical products, of which it’s known that at least 250 are toxic and more than 50 cause cancer,” said WHO.

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