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Minors will not be able to buy e-cigarettes

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Access to e-cigarettes is practically unlimited. This is set to change soon. Minors will not be able to buy them – this is what the draft amendment to the act assumes. It will not only concern online and vending machine sales, but also limit places where they can be used – such as bus stops. Material by Natalia Treder from the program “Polska i Świat” on TVN24.

The Ministry of Health wants to ban the sale of nicotine-free liquids, including disposable e-cigarettes, to persons under 18 years of age.

– The draft act on the protection of health against the effects of using tobacco products addresses the most urgent problem to be solved, i.e. the issue of the availability of tobacco products, or perhaps in other words, “liquids” without nicotine content for children – emphasized Jakub Gołąb, spokesman for the Ministry of Health.

Access to nicotine-free e-cigarettes is virtually unlimited. They can be purchased from vending machines, through apps, or online.

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– They are colorful, they don't stink, so a person thinks that if something smells nice, is nicely packaged, then it is also healthier. Maybe it is not so harmful, which is very deceptive – said Paulina Pietras, psychologist, addiction psychotherapy specialist Monar.

What's in e-cigarettes?

E-cigarette smoke inhaled into the lungs can irritate them and contribute to the early onset of asthma.

– The very act of heating fragrances and flavours is also a source of carcinogenic and cancer-causing compounds, we need to remember this because it seems that these fragrant, nice and pleasant substances are not dangerous at all, but this is a mistake – said Dr Eryk Matuszkiewicz, toxicologist.

A mistake, and a big one at that, because there are known cases where excessive vaping led to serious lung diseases. However, the long-term effects of inhaling substances contained in “liquids” are not known, because it is not fully known what is in them.

– Part of the composition is mentioned because the manufacturer has to tell us and it has to be there. However, whether it will be precise, I can doubt it and that is where the next concern is, what we are actually taking – added Matuszkiewicz.

– If we say that it does not contain nicotine, it does not mean that it is not very harmful, because it contains, I don't know, water and sugar, but it can contain any substance, including toxic and narcotic substances – explained Dr. hab. n. med. Ernest Kuchar, head of the pediatrics clinic with the observation department of the Medical University of Warsaw, LuxMed expert.

The habit of reaching for an e-cigarette

Additionally, although colorful and inconspicuous, cigarettes even without nicotine can be a prelude to addiction.

– A young person's body is just developing and people are starting to develop certain habits. When they succeed at something, they achieve some success, they think to themselves that OK, I'll smoke as a reward, to reward myself. It's not just about the substance of nicotine, but also, as I said, about a certain mechanism, a certain habit that is developed by reaching for this e-cigarette when, for example, something is happening – said Pietras.

Research clearly shows that people who use nicotine-free e-cigarettes have an easier time reaching for nicotine-based ones in the future.

– I think that there is a danger of generating certain habits, creating a certain behavioral addiction, not necessarily a chemical one – said Matuszkiewicz.

Last year, three times more “disposables” were sold than in 2022, and they are mainly used by children. Research by the Lung Cancer Association shows that nearly half of students use e-cigarettes every day, and every fifth uses disposables. Seven out of ten vaping students indicated that they reach for them mainly because of the taste and smell.

The bill is now set to go to public consultation. The changes are set to come into effect in the third quarter of this year.

Main image source: Shutterstock

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