With electronic cigarettes gaining acceptance in the US, an anti-smoking group on Friday cautioned against using them, saying they could become even more addictive than regular cigarettes and make it even harder to quit smoking.
The John Tung Foundation issued the warning amid growing curiosity over “e-cigarettes” in Taiwan in light of their growing popularity elsewhere.
Lin Chin-li (林錦麗), director of the foundation’s cigarette control section, said that a lot of people have asked where e-cigarettes can be bought.
John Tung Foundation chief executive officer Yau Sea-wain (姚思遠) said that a lot of people use e-cigarettes. An e-cigarette is a battery-operated inhaler that vaporizes a liquid solution into an aerosol mist, simulating the act of tobacco smoking, causing smokers to think that “it can help them quit smoking.”
Yau said that Brazil, Canada and Singapore have banned the sale, advertisement and imports of e-cigarettes.
The US and New Zealand regard e-cigarettes as “drugs” and they can only be sold pending approval by the US Food and Drug Administration, he said.
Yau added the WHO issued a statement in 2008 saying that e-cigarettes have yet to undergo strict scientific tests and that they incorporate several chemical additives.
The risks lie in nicotine being inhaled into the lungs and the risks posed by toxicity caused by chemicals could also be high, the statement said.
A doctor at Taipei Veterans General Hospital also cautioned against the use of e-cigarettes.
Lai Chih-kuan (賴志冠), a doctor in the hospital’s Family Medicine Department, said that the appearance of the e-cigarette is similar to that of a real cigarette and because it also contains nicotine, it could become just as addictive.
“If one wrongly thinks that it could be used without worries, not only will it be a waste of money, but could also aggravate a smoker’s addiction and make it more difficult to quit the habit,” Lai said.
The foundation suggested that those who want to quit smoking use more effective channels, such as seeking medical help or calling a special hotline.