Early this year, E-cigarettes are a technological innovation that provide an alternative to combustible tobacco, but importantly without the toxins from combustion. But is it safer and far less harmful than combustible cigarettes? So, what’s the truth about e-cigarettes that we need to know?
E-cigarettes are very different because they eliminate combustion which produces carcinogenic toxins that can be absorbed by the body. This makes them safer and less harmful.
Not all e-cigarettes have tobacco
A common misconception about e-cigarettes and vapes is that using them is as harmful as smoking tobacco cigarettes. E-cigarettes are very different because they eliminate combustion which produces carcinogenic toxins that can be absorbed by the body. This makes them safer and less harmful. These are called ENDS (electronic nicotine delivery system) devices which come in the form of e-cigarettes, vapes, closed system devices or heat-not-burn (HNB). Vapes usually allow users to manually re-fill their e-liquid while a closed system device makes use of pods which contains the brand’s e-liquid. HNB devices on the other hand, are devices which heats tobacco leaves instead of burning them.
Second-hand smoke vs vapor
Unlike traditional cigarettes which burn tobacco, e-cigarettes and vapes use a e-liquid, which produces a vapor. This means that there is no second-hand smoke like the one produced by tobacco. This eliminates the danger that comes from second-hand smoke such as pulmonary disease and cancers.
Following the public consultation, thousands of vapers expressed their opinions on the government’s lack of understanding that vapes and e-cigarettes are a form of harm-reduction, and more importantly, a step towards quitting tobacco completely. According to a recent study by Public Health England in the UK, vaping was found to be 95% less harmful than tobacco, and was found to be one of the most effective nicotine replacement therapies in the market.
Philippine Electronic Cigarette Industry Association (PECIA) President Joey Dulay mentioned in an interview that a typical e-liquid has about 5mg of nicotine, whereas a typical cigarette has 8mg of nicotine per stick. Nicotine is addictive and is what entices smokers to keep on smoking. Current smokers have great difficulty in quitting not just because they have nicotine dependency but because the routine of smoking itself is difficult to let go. This indicates that there may be a “psychology of addiction” which means that harm reduction measures are more achievable because of the ability to replace a bad habit with a similar yet less harmful one leading to a better result.
Should the government support it?
Smoking is a major problem in the Philippines; there are almost 17 million cigarette-smoking Filipinos, government expenditure on smoking-related healthcare is in the hundreds of millions, not to mention the fact that according to the World Health Organization’s Global Adult Tobacco Survey, every hour, 10 Filipinos die from smoking-related diseases. Supporting harm-reduction will result in both health and revenue wins for the Philippine government and significant improvement in the public health of the Filipinos.
As with any other industry, regulation is key. According to Andrew Da Roza, a globally renowned addiction psychotherapist who spoke at last year’s Asia Harm Reduction Forum, the Philippine government’s deprivation to their citizens of smoking alternatives is equal to sentencing millions of Filipinos to illness, disease, and death related to the deadly habit of cigarette smoking. Technology has enabled smokers with less-risky and safer alternatives. Who knows how many more lives will be saved when these options are available.