Ban e-cigs and vaping!

Thursday, October 24, 2019

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Dear Editor,

The vision of the Jamaica Coalition for Tobacco Control (JCTC) is for a tobacco-free Jamaica. Our mission is to denormalise the consumption of tobacco and all nicotine products, including cigarettes, smokeless tobacco products, heated tobacco products, and electronic cigarettes.

Electronic or e-cigarettes are a type of electronic nicotine delivery system (ENDS) which do not burn or use tobacco leaves, but vapourise a solution that is then inhaled. The solution in e-cigarettes may contain nicotine and other toxic chemicals, propylene glycol, glycerol, and flavouring agents.

E-cigarette use, also known as vaping, is now more common among Jamaican adolescents 13-15 years old than conventional cigarette use. According to the 2017 Global Youth Tobacco Survey, 11.7 per cent of students aged 13-15 years currently use e-cigarettes, as compared to 11.2 per cent of those who currently smoke cigarettes.

The 2017 Global School-based Student Health Survey also revealed that 19.4 per cent of students aged 13-17 currently used tobacco products other than cigarettes, such as beadies or hookah pipes, as compared to 14.9 per cent who currently smoked cigarettes

The total impact on health of e-cigarettes is unknown, but e-cigarette use is associated with lung disease and death. Studies show dangerously high levels of the carcinogen pulegone in menthol-flavoured e-cigarettes. Nicotine is a highly addictive substance which can affect the heart, hormones and gastrointestinal system.

Second-hand exposure to vaping may also prove harmful, as vaping aerosol may contain flavourings such as chemical diacetyl, which is linked to serious irreversible lung disease; the cancer-causing chemical formaldehyde; and ultrafine particles that can be inhaled deep into the lungs.

The Public Health (Tobacco Control) Regulations 2013 prohibits the use of e-cigarettes in public places as it does conventional tobacco products. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in the United States notes that all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, carry a risk and recommends that adults who do not currently use tobacco products do not start using e-cigarettes and that people not use e-cigarettes that contain THC.

The JCTC notes that e-cigarettes have been deemed as a cessation tool or safer than cigarettes. E-cigarettes with flavourings, including chocolate and bubble gum, are seen as marketed towards children and teenagers. The evidence of e-cigarettes being an effective tool for cessation is low. Research shows that e-cigarettes are often a transitional item for non-smokers, and people who would not have smoked begin using conventional cigarettes after trying e-cigarettes. There is also not enough research to quantify the safety of e-cigarettes over that of combustible tobacco products.

In light of reported deaths and major lung diseases associated with the use of e-cigarettes, the JCTC believes that smokers will obtain the maximum health benefit by complete cessation of all tobacco and nicotine.

E-cigarettes are not safe and may cause irreversible lung damage and lung disease. Suriname (2013) has a tobacco control law which bans the importation, distribution and sale of e-cigarettes; and Antigua and Barbuda's Tobacco Control Law (2017) prohibits the manufacture, import, wholesale distribution or sale of flavoured tobacco products.

It is the JCTC's position that the importation and sale of e-cigarettes in Jamaica should also be banned.

Aggrey Irons

Chairman

Jamaica Coalition for Tobacco Control

tcproject@heartfoundationja.org


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