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December 13th, 2015:

‘Popcorn Lung’ disease claim linked to vaping exaggerated, says cardiologist

A recent research finding which suggested that e-cigarette usage could lead users to develop the chronic respiratory condition known as “Popcorn Lung” disease has been blown out of proportion, says a leading cardiologist.

Dr Konstantinos Farsalinos, of the University of Patras in Greece, said the recent finding was exaggerated as the report on the matter failed to mention that the chemicals that caused bronchiolitis obliterans, were also present in tobacco cigarette smoke and in larger quantities, too.

Dr Farsalinos was referring to a recent publication in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives by researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health who evaluated the presence of diacetyl, acetyl propionyl and acetoin in 51 cigarette-like products of different flavours.

The researchers, he pointed out, found at least one of the chemicals in 92% of the samples, with 76% containing diacetyl and recommend urgent action to evaluate the extent of diacetyl exposure from e-cigarettes.

“We did that same study last year and they used our example.

“We found higher levels last year than what they found and those ‘high’ levels were 100 times lower than what was present in tobacco cigarette smoke, so they created, again, this media frenzy,” he said.

Dr Farsalinos said this when met on the sidelines of the “Harm Reduction in Asia – Developing a Regulatory Framework for E-cigarettes Symposium” here on Thursday.

The symposium was organised by regional consumer advocacy group,, in wake of the intense debate over the harm reduction potential of e-cigarettes as a less harmful alternative for adult smokers.

The group’s initiative comes at a time when the Hong Kong and Macau governments are considering completely banning the sales of e-cigarettes, with authorities in Malaysia announcing they will regulate rather than ban, and as proposals are expected to be reviewed and voted on by legislators in 2016.

Dr Farsalinos also said there had yet to be a single case of e-cigarette users who had developed the disease, which causes inflammation and scarring to the lungs and constricts breathing, from prolonged use of the device, although it was said that 75% of the vaping liquid refills contained the chemicals involved.

In response to the Harvard study, Dr Farsalinos, in his blogsite, said the article had created false impressions and exaggerated the potential risk from diacetyl and acetyl propionyl exposure through e-cigarettes.

“They failed to mention that these chemicals are present in tobacco cigarette smoke and violated a classical toxicological principle that the amount determines the toxicity and the risk.

“Whether you are healthy or not, smoking will be a much stronger risk factor for health damage compared to any exposure coming from e-cigarettes, at least at the average levels found in our study and the new study,” he wrote.

However, he said he was a strong supporter of removing diacetyl and acetyl propionyl from e-cigarettes.

“Smokers need to be informed about the risk from continuing smoking versus a risk coming from use of diacetyl containing e-liquids.

“We should not forget that the risk of discouraging smokers from using e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation tool is higher than the risk of being exposed to diacetyl and acetyl propionyl at the average levels found in this study,” he said.

Dutch Ban Vaping For Under 18s, Say More Harmful Than Thought

THE HAGUE (Reuters) – Electronic cigarettes and water pipes will be banned in the Netherlands for children under 18 from next year, the government said, after finding that the devices were more damaging to health than expected.

E-cigarettes, which electrically vaporize a nicotine-infused solution, are defended by their proponents as a healthier alternative to conventional cigarettes, but the government said its studies showed they were still harmful.

“With this ban I want to protect young people from the damage e-cigarettes cause,” said health state secretary Martin Van Rijn in a statement. “I also want to avoid young people thinking that these e-cigarettes in hip colors are normal.”

The government said that studies carried out by the Dutch food safety and public health institutes had shown that e-cigarettes were “more harmful than expected” to users’ health.

A recent U.S. study showed that teens and young adults who “vape” are more likely to graduate to smoking combustible cigarettes than those who do not.

The market for e-cigarettes is growing fast around the world as conventional smoking declines in response to massive public health campaigns and high sin taxes imposed on the practice.

Tobacco companies, including BAT, Philip Morris, Imperial Tobacco and Japan Tobacco, are all jostling for position in the emerging vaping market, which could top $7 billion in size this year.

The Netherlands will ban advertising of the devices when the new law comes into force in May 2016. E-cigarettes will be subject to new safety requirements and their packaging will have to carry health warnings.

The Netherlands, known for its relaxed attitude towards the consumption of soft drugs, is one of few countries left in Europe where it is still permitted to smoke indoors in certain bars.

(Reporting By Anthony Deutsch, writing by Thomas Escritt, editing by Jeremy Gaunt)