Hazardous e-cigarette Smoked out of Market

Olivia Olarte
Filed on August 19, 2009

ABU DHABI — Electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) can be hazardous to people’s health as it contains carcinogens and toxic materials, according to a senior official at the Ministry of Health (MoH).

The e-cigarette cannot be recognised or marketed as a ‘quit smoking’ therapy in the Gulf Cooperation Council region, Dr Wedad Al Maidoor, head of Tobacco Control Team at the MoH told Khaleej Times.

“There is general agreement in the GCC Tobacco Control Committee that e-cigarette should not be circulated in the (Gulf) market as therapy. It cannot be recognised or marketed as a kind of therapy.

“There was no approval from (United States) the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that it can be used as a therapy (and) no recommendation from the MoH,” she pointed out.

“If circulated, then the same rule applies as the (real) cigarette (with) specific requirements for marketing and selling cigarette — with picture and hazard (warning),” she added.

According to Dr Al Maidoor, Dubai Municipality did a test of e-cigarette recently and found them “to be very dangerous and containing a lot of hazards to health.”

She added that based on the findings, the municipality will recommend a ban on the import of e-cigarettes.

She has also written to the Customer Protection Department in the Ministry of Economy informing them about the dangers and hazards of the e-cigarette.

“I sent them documents from the WHO and the declaration made in the GCC meeting,” Dr Al Maidoor said.

Dr Al Maidoor said to date there is no study that could prove that the e-cigarette can be used as a therapy to quit smoking.

On the contrary, e-cigarette “will encourage smoking more and more,” especially among children, because “they can easily hide it as there is no fume and no smoke.

“Even if the father is sitting nearby, they can smoke and hide it in their pocket. It is very dangerous as it could encourage users to smoke more and more,” she emphasised.

She also warned that “it will cause high addiction because there are no filters” and could also encourage “the habit of drug addiction.”

A safety alert issued previously by the FDA stated that “a laboratory analysis of e-cigarette samples found that they contain carcinogens and toxic chemicals such as diethylene glycol, an ingredient used in anti-freeze that is toxic to humans. In several other samples, the FDA analyses detected carcinogens, including nitrosamines.”

“These products do not contain any health warnings comparable to FDA-approved nicotine replacement products or conventional cigarettes,” FDA clarified.

“Because these products have not been submitted to the FDA for evaluation or approval, at this time the agency has no way of knowing, except for the limited testing it has performed, the levels of nicotine or the amounts or kinds of other chemicals that the various brands of these products deliver to the user,” FDA said.

Khaleej Times checked with Smokers Centre, a major retailer of cigarette and tobacco in the capital, and found that a set of an e-cigarette brand from China — two holders, one cartridge and a charger — is being sold at Dh449. A cartridge refill is available for Dh50.

A supervisor at a Smokers Centre branch said that 20 pieces of e-cigarette had been sold in the last two months.

A saleswoman at another branch described the e-cigarette as “popular” but said it is sold to only those above the age of 20.

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