Health Dept says e-cigarette, shisha are not safe smoking alternatives


By Joseph John J. Perez

LEGAZPI CITY, 27June2013 – The Department of Health (DOH) regional office here warned the public that electronic – cigarette or e-cigarrette and shisha are not safe alternatives to dispel perception that these two popular smoking paraphernalia are healthy substitutes for typical tobacco products

“E-cigarettes including shisha should not be even considered as alternatives since those are still smoking and they contain harmful substances,” DOH Non-Communicable Diseases Prevention Program regional coordinator for Dr. Evy Sarmiento said in an interview during “Aramon Ta Daw,” a radio program of the Philippine Information Agency (PIA).

An e-cigarette also known as personal vaporiser or PV is an electronic inhaler that vaporises a liquid solution into an aerosol mist, simulating the act of tobacco smoking.

While Shisha, the origins of which are disputed (some say India, others Persia or Turkey) is a glass-bottomed water pipe in which fruit-flavored tobacco is covered with foil and roasted with charcoal. The fruit-flavored tobacco smoke passes through a water chamber and is inhaled.

Last year, the American Lung Association issued its own warning about e-cigarettes. It said that the product may actually be more harmful than traditional cigarettes since the doses of nicotine in an e-cigarette can be higher than a typical cigarette.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also tested a small sample of the contents of e-cigarettes few years ago and found a number of toxic chemicals including diethylene glycol – the same ingredient used in antifreeze. The findings forced the FDA to issue a nationwide health warning.

Meanwhile, the Niche Tobacco Advisory Group (NTAG) for North England recently introduced an educational campaign on shisha smoking. Dr Khalid Anis, chairman of NTAG in Manchester, says: “There’s a misconception that shisha is not as bad for you as cigarettes, because the tobacco is flavored and passes through water first. But the carcinogens and nicotine are still there.”

A regular shisha smoker can expect to be at risk to the similar health problems that cigarette smokers face, whether that’s respiratory, heart disease or cancer. As with any other tobacco product, regular shisha smokers will find it addictive, to the point that they may need it every day, Anis added.

According to research carried out by the World Health Organization (WHO), the volume of smoke inhaled in an hour-long shisha session is estimated to be the equivalent of smoking between 100 and 200 cigarettes. The estimated findings go on to show that, on average, a smoker will inhale half a liter of smoke per cigarette, while a shisha smoker can take in anything from just under a sixth of a liter to a liter of smoke per inhale.

DOH-Bicol reiterated that smoking is the cause of four deadly diseases which are obstructive pulmonary diseases, lung cancer, kidney diseases and diabetes.

“It harms not only the smoker but persons who are nearby like family members, office mates, friends,” Sarmiento said.

Meanwhile, the Smoke-Free Albay Network (SFAN) announced late last week that it already surpassed its target of 13,000 participants for the Guinness World Record (GWR)attempt for largest human no-smoking sign later this week in celebration of the International No-Smoking Month this June.

“As of Wednesday, June 19, we already have more than 15,000 participants who officially signed up for the event,” SFAN chairman and provincial board member Herbert Borja said.

The original plan of accommodating walk-ins and late registrants need to be dropped due to administrative and technical concerns, Borja added

The attempt will be executed on Friday, June 28, at seven in the morning inside the Bicol University (BU) football field that is expected to gain worldwide attention and support.

The event is the highlight in the series of activities that the Provincial Government of Albay (PGA) and SFAN had prepared in celebration of the International No-Smoking Month this June, Albay Governor Jose “Joey” Salceda said.

“(This is) to give relevance and meaning to the implementation of the Albay Smoke-free Ordinance and to educate or to instill awareness on the ill-effects of smoking and its hazards to the environment,” Salceda said. (PIA5/Albay)


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