Is e-cigarette smoking ‘safer’? UAE ministry warns against promoting false idea

Smoking e-cigarettes is prohibited inside offices and closed spaces across the UAE; yet some are still seen vaping indoors, assuming the laws don't apply to these electronic products

by

Sahim Salim

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Photo: Reuters file
Photo: Reuters file

Published: Thu 30 May 2024, 2:51 PM

Last updated: Thu 30 May 2024, 10:51 PM

Health authorities in the UAE have warned against the promotion of electronic smoking products as safer alternatives to traditional cigarettes.There is no scientific evidence to support these claims, said the Ministry of Health and Prevention (Mohap).

In statement issued to mark World No-Tobacco Day on May 31, the ministry urged smokers to quit, warning against serious health risks like cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes, and mental health issues.


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The tobacco industry positions nicotine products as “safer” than cigarettes but this isn't exactly the case, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said in a report.


“For example, e-cigarettes with nicotine are highly addictive and are harmful to health. While long-term health effects are not fully understood, it has been established that they generate toxic substances, some of which are known to cause cancer and some that increase the risk of heart and lung disorders. Use of e-cigarettes can also affect brain development, potentially leading to learning and anxiety disorders for young people,” it said.

Companies promote the idea of “harm reduction” to convince consumers to try e-cigarettes, heated tobacco products, and nicotine pouches. In reality, however, there is “insufficient evidence that these newer products are effective in helping smokers quit”, the international public health agency said.

There is also “growing evidence” that these emerging products come with their own risks, and “most users end up becoming dual users, which is more harmful”.

An expert from Cleveland Clinic said there is no safe form of tobacco use. “All forms of nicotine use have health risks, from vaping liquid nicotine and chewing tobacco to smoking cigarettes and shisha – even occasionally or without inhaling," said pulmonologist Dr Humberto Choi.

“Vaping is particularly challenging as we do not yet know the full implications for health, even though it has already been linked to acute lung inflammation, strong levels of addiction and dental problems, among others, and we know that the many of the same mechanisms that cause lung issues in smoking are involved,” he added.

Some vaping liquids contain very high levels of nicotine, making them addictive. “Vapes are often more tolerated in public spaces, with more opportunities for a quick puff. The result is that individual consumption may be higher than is the case with cigarettes, for example,” said the expert.

As per UAE laws, smoking e-cigarettes is prohibited inside offices and closed spaces across the country. However, some smokers vape indoors, assuming cigarette smoking laws don’t apply to e-cigarettes.

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