Browsing 'smoking' News

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The perception that electronic cigarettes are not harmful is due to “irresponsible and potentially dangerous” marketing, a Qatar health expert has warned.

In fact, people who use e-cigarettes are more likely to take up smoking normal cigarettes than those who don’t vape, said Dr. Ziyad Mahfoud of Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar (WMC-Q).

This is because non-smokers and former smokers who begin vaping get addicted to nicotine.

They then often move on to actual cigarettes because they offer a quicker hit of the drug and are faster to light, he said.

Young people

This is particularly the case among young people who take up e-cigarette smoking because of the different flavors offered.

Other factors include peer pressure and vaping’s image as being “hip” and high-tech, the associate professor of policy and research said.

However, speaking this week at a WCM-Q public talk, Mahfoud said:

“E-cigarettes deliver nicotine, which is highly addictive, and research indicates that young people who use e-cigarettes are more likely to start smoking normal cigarettes, which we know can have catastrophic negative effects on health, including increased risk of respiratory disease, heart disease and many forms of cancer.”

He concluded, “Portraying e-cigarettes as safe is therefore extremely irresponsible and potentially dangerous.”

Qatar banned the sale or import of e-cigarettes in 2013. Some people still use them, but there are no official figures on the extent of their appeal here.

More research needed

Some initial studies on lung cells have shown that the toxins in conventional cigarettes are also found in e-cigarettes, but in lower quantities, Mahfoud told Doha News.

As a result, there is a belief that established smokers who don’t want to quit should be persuaded to take up vaping to reduce the harmful effects of smoking.

Dr. Ziyad Mahfoud from Weill Cornell Medical College Qatar

WCM-Q

Dr. Ziyad Mahfoud from Weill Cornell Medical College Qatar

However, a lack of detailed research on means that health experts don’t know the long-term implications of e-smoking, he said.

One of the problems with e-cigarettes is that there are hundreds of different types on the market. Many of them are poorly labeled or mis-labeled, so users and researchers don’t really know what their ingredients are.

Additionally, this wide range of products has made it hard for researchers to test them and their effects.

Meanwhile, the marketing of e-cigarettes as a safe way to give up smoking has spurred many ex-smokers to relapse, Mahfoud said.

Nicotinell gum

Nicotinell

Nicotinell gum

He added that it’s “not recommended” to use e-cigarettes as a way to quit smoking.

“Until there are more regulations on the manufacturing of e-cigarettes and more studies about its health hazards, nicotine gum, nicotine patches, medications and cognitive behavioral therapy provide safer ways to reduce nicotine dependency and give up smoking,” he said in a statement.

What are e-cigarettes?

E-cigarettes are in the same category as electronic pens, cigars, shisha and pipes. They are electronic devices that use a liquid made up of nicotine, as well as propylene glycol and flavorings.

They’re battery-powered and use an element to heat the “e-liquid,” which releases an aerosol, also know as a vapor.

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Penny Yi Wang

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Though the prevalence of e-smoking in Qatar remains unknown, regular smoking is becoming more popular in Qatar, particularly with young people.

Some 12 percent of the country’s population ages 15 years and older said they currently smoke tobacco. That’s up from 10 percent in 2013, the latest Global Adult Tobacco Study found.

Anti-smoking efforts

The government has started taking steps to tackle this.

A new tobacco law signed by the Emir last month imposes a QR3,000 fine on those caught smoking inside a car with children.

It also raises the fine for those smoking in covered public places such as shopping malls from QR500 to QR3,000.

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Morgan/Flickr

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Elsewhere, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) this year announced it would start regulating all e-cigarette products.

The decision comes as vaping grows in popularity among middle and high school students.

The American Lung Association has described this uptick as “alarming,” and cites a study conducted by the Center for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC).

This found that between 2014 and 2015, e-cigarette use among US high school students increased by 19 percent, with more teens now using e-cigarettes than cigarettes.

Thoughts?

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Motorists in Qatar caught smoking in vehicles that contain children can now face fines of up to QR3,000, according to a new tobacco law signed by the Emir yesterday.

The legislation, which has been in the works for years, takes several steps to discourage the use of tobacco particularly among young people in Qatar.

For example, it has always been illegal to sell tobacco to minors under the age of 18, and salespersons faced fines for doing so.

Carrefour Villaggio's cigarette section

Neha Rashid / Doha News

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But now, the establishments in which a minor is sold cigarettes can also be held accountable through a fine of up to QR100,000, while the salesperson can now face jail time.

Additionally, the sale of tobacco is now prohibited within 1,000m of schools and educational establishments, an increase from the previous 500m restriction.

The ban on smoking in cars applies to those driving with young people under the age of 18 years.

Other provisions

The new law also increases the maximum fine of smoking in covered public places such as malls and coffee shops to QR3,000. Previously, it was QR500.

Many lauded this change when the Advisory Council approved these measures earlier this year. They said the harsher penalty should help stamp out rampant smoking inside some of Qatar’s malls.

Despite efforts, smoking rates appear to be rising in Qatar.

Some 12 percent of the country’s population ages 15 years and older said they currently smoke tobacco. That’s up from 10 percent in 2013, the latest Global Adult Tobacco Study found.

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Morgan/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Cognizant of this, the new legislation takes several other measures to discourage residents from the deadly habit.

These include:

  • Earmarking 5 percent of customs duties to be levied from tobacco products for use by the Ministry of Public Health’s anti-smoking campaigns.
  • Banning the use of sweika and other chewing tobacco products entirely (the sale of electronic cigarettes has been banned in Qatar since 2013);
  • Closing an establishment caught violating the new law for up to three months; and
  • Publishing convictions of businesses in at least two daily newspapers, at the expense of the erring party.

Convictions

In the event of a conviction, a court can also order confiscation, destruction or re-exporting of tobacco products and their derivatives, irrespective of the quantity.

However, Qatar’s public health minister can opt to arbitrate a case before it goes to court or until a verdict is reached.

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When this happens, the offender would pay half of the maximum fine stipulated for his offense to avoid criminal charges.

The new legislation replaces Law No. 20 of 2002 on the control of tobacco products and its derivatives.

Authorities didn’t state whether the new law takes effect immediately.

But Al Sharq reports officials as saying the current legislation should be applied in a way that “doesn’t contradict the new law’s regulations.”

Thoughts?

Qatar’s Cabinet gives nod to new anti-smoking law

A stricter new anti-smoking bill is moving closer to becoming law after Qatar’s state cabinet gave it the green light yesterday, QNA reported.

The updated draft law on the control of tobacco and its derivatives includes much tougher penalties for those caught smoking in public places, according to recommendations made by the Advisory (Shura) Council last month.