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E-cigarettes and health. Substandard e-cigarettes found in UK shops. In Poland, their popularity is growing

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Eight out of fifty-two vaping products tested by Inter Scientific, allegedly nicotine-free, had nicotine in their composition – alerts “The Guardian”. The e-cigarette refill analysis was carried out at various locations across England and Wales. In Poland, interest in this type of products is growing, especially among young people, and experts warn against falsely describing them as safe for health.

According to current regulations in the UK, e-cigarette cartridges available on the UK market must not exceed a capacity of 2 milliliters, and their nicotine concentration must not exceed 20 mg of nicotine for each milliliter of the product. However, as research by Inter Scientific showed, as many as 73 percent of the products tested exceeded the permissible volume of liquid. In addition, as much as 15 percent of all liquids labeled as nicotine-free contained nicotine in its composition. In the case of one of them, the standard imposed by law regarding the maximum content of this substance in nicotine products was even exceeded.

The fight against substandard e-cigarettes

The study analyzed the compositions of dozens of brands sold in English stores in Newcastle, Birmingham, Hertfordshire, Staffordshire, Dudley, Liverpool and Wales. “The Guardian” points out that in the last half of 2022 in the north-east England over 1.4 tonnes of illegal vapes were seized, and the fight against substandard e-cigarettes UK government plans to allocate up to £3 million. “We will not tolerate the sale of illegal products and will take the necessary action to remove them from shelves and stop them from crossing our borders,” a spokesman for the UK Department of Health and Social Care said.

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Experts on the impact of e-cigarettes on health

When asked about the differences between the health consequences of smoking cigarettes and e-cigarettes and other similar products, dr hab. n. med. Mateusz Jankowski, head of the Population Health Department of the Center for Postgraduate Medical Education (CMKP) and chairman of the Anti-Tobacco Section of the Polish Society of Lung Diseases, emphasizes that due to the relatively short time of existence of new tobacco products, it is impossible to clearly determine the level of their harmfulness. – We have the most evidence of harmful effects on health on cigarettes, because they have been on the market for decades, and any study assessing the long-term health effects of stimulants takes time. We know that they are carcinogenic, increase the risk of myocardial infarction, stroke or lung diseases – he says in an interview with TVN24.pl.

“We also know from laboratory studies that e-cigarettes can affect health through similar mechanisms as cigarettes. We know that their long-term use can lead to respiratory diseases, as well as increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases. As he emphasizes, even nicotine-free vaping products can be harmful to health. – The mechanism of their operation can be compared to artificial fog in a theater or club. Scientific data shows that the chemical composition of e-cigarette smoke, including the flavorings it contains, can be harmful to health.

SEE ALSO: E-cigarettes and increased risk of prediabetes. Scientists have observed large associations

Dr. hab. Klaudiusz Nadolny, professor and head of the Department of Medical Rescue at the Silesian University in Katowice, adds: – In the public space you can often hear that e-cigarettes are a good alternative to traditional cigarettes, which of course is not true. There are no safe tobacco products on the market and there cannot be. All currently available products are harmful.

In an interview with TVN24.pl, Nadolny also cites the results of a study by the University of Bristol, according to which “the average cigarette smoker lives about 10 years less than a non-smoker, and each cigarette costs him 11 minutes of life”. – One should not forget about the harmfulness of the so-called. passive smoking. It is worth remembering that the side stream of smoke contains from 5 to even 15 times more carbon monoxide and up to 20 times more nicotine than the smoke exhaled by smokers – alarms the head of the Department of Medical Rescue at the University of Silesia.

E-cigarettes are becoming more and more popular in Poland

According to a report published by the Polish Academy of Sciences, as many as 28.8 percent of adult Poles reached for tobacco products every day last year. Importantly, this result was higher than in previous years. According to the authors of the study, the expansion of the group of consumers addicted to nicotine contributes to e.g. “launching new nicotine products unjustifiably advertised as safer”. Dr. Mateusz Jankowski and Dr. Klaudiusz Nadolny are of a similar opinion, and they unanimously emphasize the impact of expanding the offer of tobacco products on the increase in their popularity.

The popularity of e-cigarettes is growingShutterstock

SEE ALSO: More and more Poles smoke cigarettes. Scientists want higher taxes and restrictions

– The market of nicotine products has undergone major changes over the last decade. We used to associate a person addicted to nicotine with a person who smokes cigarettes. Now we are dealing with three groups of users of different nicotine products. The first and most numerous of them are cigarette smokers. In the second group there are people who reach for e-cigarettes, i.e. products that do not contain tobacco, but contain nicotine, often even more harmful than that present in cigarettes. The third group of users of nicotine products are people who use the so-called tobacco heaters, i.e. products that also contain tobacco, nicotine and tar, but they are not burned but heated – explains Dr. Mateusz Jankowski.

Talking about users of various tobacco products, the expert warns against the “very dangerous phenomenon that one person uses several different types of tobacco products at the same time”. – The data clearly show that if someone uses several different tobacco products interchangeably, e.g. heaters and cigarettes, the health risk becomes several times greater than if he used one group of products – warns the expert.

Every fourth teenager has tried e-cigarettes

Doctor Mateusz Jankowski also draws attention to the relationship according to which specific groups of products are preferred among specific groups of people using tobacco products. As he explains, in the case of e-cigarettes, their recipients are often children and adolescents. “We know that more than 10 percent of teenagers between the ages of 15 and 19 use e-cigarettes every day,” he says. In turn, according to PAN data, “in 2019, 16 percent of people declared their first use before the age of majority, while in 2021 almost every fourth teenager did it.”

The popularity of electronic cigarettes is also confirmed by the results of the PolNicoYouth survey conducted in 2019, in which as many as 62.1 percent of high school students declared that they had tried tobacco products at least once. When asked about the form of nicotine products they chose, students most often indicated the answer “e-cigarettes, Juul and heated tobacco” (52.4 percent).

SEE ALSO: The sale of Juul electronic cigarettes has been banned in the US

– Currently, in the case of every third person who has ever taken nicotine, the first product they reached for was e-cigarettes – alerts the head of the Department of Population Health, CMKP. As he adds, due to this, “these products are already prepared in such a way that they attract the attention of teenagers.” – Their appearance often does not resemble classic cigarettes, they are already present in over 15,000 types of various inhalation solutions with flavors such as bubble gum, jelly beans, cherries and others, which increase their attractiveness to young people – notes the expert.

Why teens are turning to e-cigarettes

A report published in December 2020 by the Pollster Research Institute, commissioned by the Ombudsman for Children, revealed that among the most common reasons why teenagers reach for e-cigarettes are: entertainment, tension or stress, boredom, a way to take a break from learning, an opportunity to “talk to people” and curiosity.

When asked about the possible consequences of using e-cigarettes among young people, Dr. hab. n. med. Mateusz Jankowski reminds that “the human brain develops until about the age of 28, and until this age young people are more susceptible to addiction.” – In addition, in e-cigarettes we often observe synthetic nicotine, which has an even higher addictive potential – he adds.

Doctor Jankowski also notes that over the last decade the age of nicotine initiation has decreased and now it is only 13-14 years old. The expert also draws attention to the problem of self-creation of inhalation solutions for e-cigarettes by young people. As he points out, they are often associated with attempts to inhale psychoactive substances.

SEE ALSO: Today’s 14-year-olds will never buy cigarettes in their lives. The first law of this type in the world

Why should you stop smoking? PAP/Maria Samczuk, Maciej Zieliński

Main photo source: Shutterstock

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