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IMA condemns use and sale of e-cigarettes

Electronic cigarettes or e-cigarettes are a type of electronic nicotine delivery system, which are much in rage today as alternatives to cigarettes. The younger generation is increasingly switching to e-cigarettes because they feel that they are safe to use, less harmful than normal cigarette smoking and satisfy their cravings.

The recent regulation on e-cigarettes by the FDA restricting its sale and promotion to the younger generation proves otherwise. Welcoming the move, the Indian Medical Association is running a mass awareness campaign educating the masses about the dangers of e-cigarettes and dispelling common myths, which state that e-cigarettes are safe and nicotine free.

E-cigarettes are battery-operated devices that heat a liquid to produce a vapour that the user inhales. Unlike conventional cigarettes, which burn tobacco and generate smoke, e-cigarettes have a cartridge containing a liquid which contains nicotine and other constituents.

In Focus

The liquid is heated to produce a vapour the user inhales. Unlike conventional cigarettes, e-cigarettes can be sold with flavorings. More than 7000 flavours are available, including candy, fruit, soda, and alcohol flavors. Flavorings may increase the attractiveness of e-cigarettes to youths, especially those who are not already smokers.

Speaking about the same, Dr SS Agarwal, National President IMA & Dr KK Aggarwal, Honorary Secretary General IMA in a statement said, “Nicotine exposure from e-cigarette use, as with cigarette smoking, increases heart rate and produces measurable levels of blood cotinine, a nicotine metabolite. Experienced e-cigarette users tend to take longer puffs and use the device more intensively compared with novice users. As a consequence, they have higher blood nicotine levels that more closely resemble the levels achieved by smoking conventional cigarettes.”

They added, “Similar to cigarette smoke, e-cigarette vapour contains particles. It is not known whether the particles in e-cigarette vapour have any toxicity. IMA, therefore, does not advocate e-cigarettes as an effective way to reduce smoking cessation and believe that they are as harmful as normal cigarettes and must not be promoted.”

Given the concerns that e-cigarette use may be a gateway to nicotine dependence in adolescents, many public health authorities have recommended restricting e-cigarette marketing and advertising to youth, much in the same way that conventional cigarette smoking advertising is restricted. The nicotine in e-cigarette fluid poses a potential for accidental ingestion, especially by children.

E-cigarettes have been banned in some countries (including Brazil, Singapore, Canada, and Uruguay). In Europe, the European Parliament approved a directive that regulates nicotine-containing e-cigarettes with concentrations up to 20mg/mL as tobacco products E-cigarettes with higher nicotine concentrations are regulated as medical devices.

As per WHO, regulations are needed to stop promotion of e-cigarettes to nonsmokers and young people, minimise potential health risks to users and nonusers, stop unproven health claims about e-cigarettes, and protect existing tobacco control efforts.

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