E-cigarettes in the United States have been the cause of death of more than 40 people – many of whom were young. In Belgium an 18-year-old lost his life as a result.
Research carried out recently shows that e-cigarettes leave a negative impact on the brain, veins and lungs. A number of researchers have urged for e-cigarettes to be banned, as happened in New York and even in India.
E-cigarettes are a phenomenon which is worrying Maltese health authorities as well, because they are being used more, especially among young people.
12% of Maltese adolescents, mostly those aged between 15 – 16 years of age, use e-cigarettes. This emerged from a study by the Superintendency of Public Health, Prof Charmaine Gauci.
”I know that we were slowly cutting down on cigarette use and they were no longer that attractive especially among young people, but the fact that you have youngsters who are using e-cigarettes means there is a great chance of us once again reversing the epidemic of tobacco.”
Professor Gauci said that contrary to what many think, e-cigarettes are not an alternative to cigarettes and they cause as much, if not more, damage as cigarettes.
”These days you have these devices which contain a greater amount of nicotine which can enter the body quickly so people are ingesting more nicotine than they would if they smoked cigarettes.”
Studies by the World Health Organisation have confirmed that e-cigarettes are not an alternative for a person to cut out cigarettes. Prof Gauci said that there are other alternatives for one to stop smoking which are controlled and manufactured like other medicines.
She added that e-cigarettes are not only harmful to those who use them but even to those who are nearby. In the eyes of the law, e-cigarettes are considered to be like cigarettes and other tobacco products. That is why they cannot be used indoors and they cannot be advertised either.
In the US, health officials have reported more than 2000 cases of respiratory disease and more than 40 people have lost their lives because of the use of e-cigarettes and the chemicals inside them.
”We need to remember that in the US there are no controls like there are in Europe of the ingredients used for e-cigarettes. In Malta we have not seen any case like this and even if you look at Europe – the only case which has reported is the one in Belgium which is still being investigated.”
Although they preferably should not be used, Prof Gauci appealed for e-cigarettes not to be purchased over the Internet.