THE TT Medical Association (T&TMA) is calling for measures to be put in place that will reduce the use of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) by young people as it commemorated World No Tobacco Day on Wednesday.
In a media release, the association also called for banning the import and sale of tobacco, flavoured tobacco products, e-cigarettes, candies, snacks and toys that resemble tobacco products.
It is also calling for a cap on nicotine levels and ensuring transparent marketing review procedures and marketing for e-cigarettes restricted to adults only, along with curbing internet/social media sales of all tobacco products and setting taxes on e-cigarettes at a level high enough to strongly discourage use.
“As we join the world in celebrating World No Tobacco Day on May the T&TMA feels strongly that it is only by combining public health education campaigns with strong policy decisions and law enforcement of the existing act that we can stop the harmful effects of smoking and vaping in T&T.”
The T&TMA’s stance on e-cigarettes comes after the West Indian Tobacco Company (WITCO) announced in April that it intends to include vaping products in its tobacco sales portfolio. E-cigarettes, the association said, are erroneously marketed as being 95 per cent safer than cigarettes and as a smoking cessation tool, with “our nation’s children are being tangibly affected by these campaigns.”
In its release the T&TMA said 17.2 per cent of students reported being current e-cigarette users in 2017.
The release said: “The use of e-cigarettes by adolescents was shown to be associated with mental health diseases such as depression. Even though e-cigarettes contain less toxins than regular tobacco cigarettes, studies have proven significant health risks to users."
A study done in 2018 by the University of North Carolina, it reported, found e-cigarette aerosol contains high level of toxins and the more frequent the use of the e-cigarettes, the greater the toxicity. According to the US Centers for Disease Control, in 2020, there were 2,807 cases of e-cigarette or vaping use-associated lung injury (EVALI) including 68 deaths.
The release said studies showed e-cigarettes did not contribute to the fight against nicotine addiction, and called on the authorities to provide national public education campaigns on the health risks associated with vaping, advertisement and marketing of e-cigarettes and related products and use of e-cigarettes in public spaces.
“We endorse the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) recommendations for our local tobacco control policies to 'regulate the contents of tobacco products (including e-cigarettes) and prohibit the sale of flavoured tobacco products' as per Article 9 of Tobacco Control Act of 2009.”