The federal government has levied 25% taxes on the import of electronic cigarettes in budget for FY 2020-2021. The step will in a way legitimize influx of e-cigarette market in Pakistan.
These views were expressed by tobacco control advocates, members of civil society and health experts during a media session organized by the Human Development Foundation (HDF) held at a local hotel here Tuesday.
CEO of the HDF, Azhar Saleem said the new product was released in the market as a cessation alternative for smokers. However, the truth is far from it.
He further added that e-cigarettes were battery-powered devices used to smoke or ‘vape’, a flavoured solution containing a varying concentration of nicotine, an addictive chemical found in cigarettes and other forms of tobacco products.
These devices also contain other ingredients as flavouring agents and vaporizers, which are also found to be harmful for health. E-cigarettes produce an aerosolized mixture of the flavoured liquids and nicotine, which is inhaled by the user.
Nicotine is considered as one of the most addictive substances and the rapidity at which it is introduced into the body, age of first exposure and the dosage administered all add to determine the potential risk of a person being addicted to it throughout life.
According to World Health Organisation (WHO), existing evidence indicates that e-cigarettes increase the risk of heart disease and lung disorders, putting vapers, at greater risk when confronted with COVID-19.
Sajjad Cheema, Executive Director, SPARC shared that daily 12 children start smoking in Pakistan.
He stated that reports from the US show e-cigarette use is strongly associated with the use of other tobacco products, and increases the risk of using cigarettes among youth and young adults. Allowing e-cigarettes into Pakistan will addict a new generation to nicotine and will increase the risk of addicted young people taking up smoking later.
Mr. Malik Imran, Country representative of Campaign for Tobacco Kids (CTFK) stated that the use of ENDS or e-cigarettes by non-smokers can lead to nicotine addiction and regular smoking. Studies have found that youths using ENDS or e-cigarettes are more likely to use regular cigarettes later. E-cigarettes increase the likelihood to experiment with regular tobacco products and increase intention to indulge in cigarette smoking. They also increase the risk of dual-use due to lack of awareness about the harmful effects of ENDS.
This false sense of safety propagated by misleading advertisements lures new users, especially youth. ENDS or e-cigarettes are manufactured in such a way to resemble traditional tobacco products like cigarettes, pipes, cigars, and common gadgets like flash drives, flashlights, or pens.
Dr Imran Saeed shared the health effects of e-cigarettes and impact of nicotine on the human body. With the advent of nicotine replacement therapy, the consumption of nicotine is on the rise. Nicotine poses several health hazards.