While an increasing number of policymakers around the world have embraced the robust science behind the health benefits derived from the use of electronic cigarettes, a number of countries, including the Philippines, have lagged behind, often allowing myths to guide decision making in regulatory processes. This leaves Filipino smokers without viable alternatives that could help them quit.
Here are some examples of these myths and why they are untrue:
Myth 1: E-cigarettes are more dangerous than cigarettes
E-cigarettes contain nicotine, one of the few ingredients that e-cigarettes and traditional cigarettes have in common. That’s where the similarity ends.
Conventional cigarettes, when ignited, produce around 7,000 chemicals, 69 of which are established to be cancer-inducing. E-cigarettes on the other hand, are mostly made up of two ingredients—propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin—that are common food ingredients found in cake mixes and dairy products which have been certified by many regulatory bodies as safe for consumption.
The technology in e-cigarettes also allows the user to choose the level of nicotine intake with each new pod or cartridge—providing those who wish to quit smoking an option to gradually decrease the amount of nicotine they consume. This would not be possible for traditional cigarettes.
Numerous international health authorities have acknowledged e-cigarettes to be far less harmful than cigarettes. Public Health England estimated e-cigarettes to be at least 95% less harmful than conventional cigarettes. The Ministry of Health in New Zealand has even highlighted how misconceptions play a part in affecting a smoker’s decision to switch to e-cigarettes. They then launched a vaping facts website to clear the air on the product and actively encourage smokers to switch to e-cigarettes completely.
Myth 2: E-cigarettes are unregulated
These allegations of e-cigarettes being more dangerous than its traditional counterpart are usually founded on the claim that e-cigarettes are unregulated. This is another urban myth as e-cigarettes have been regulated for close to a decade now, with places such as the United Kingdom, the European Union, New Zealand, Canada, and Russia implementing e-cigarette-specific regulations. Regulations are beneficial in ensuring that only safe and high-quality products are being sold, while ensuring that e-cigarettes are kept away from underage users.
With proper regulation, smokers can have proper access to e-cigarettes, the most effective tool to quit, more than nicotine gum or patches.
Myth 3: E-cigarettes vapor is harmful to bystanders
One of the biggest misconceptions about e-cigarette use is that the exhaled vapor is referred to as “smoke”. Such a characterization is not only misleading but also wrong, as no smoke is produced throughout the usage of e-cigarettes at all. As no combustion takes place, the cloud produced by users is in fact vapor as exhaled aerosol.
This is unlike cigarette smoke which causes harm to bystanders as second-hand or third-hand smoke. Regulations in the United Kingdom were guided by recommendations by Public Health England which had found no identifiable health risks of passive vaping from the exhaled aerosol to bystanders. As such, UK laws prohibiting smoking in certain areas have excluded e-cigarette use.
Myth 4: E-cigarettes can explode
Another common myth about e-cigarettes is that these can suddenly explode during use and seriously injure the user. As with all electronic items containing Lithium-ion batteries, they need to be used in the proper manner as well as to have them recharged under safe conditions. Similar to charging your mobile phone, charging and storing e-cigarettes should not take place on bedding or near water, or unsupervised. Incidents are rare and most of their occurrence involve counterfeit products purchased illegally, or happen because genuine products have been illegally modified.
In order to ensure none of this happens to you or your loved ones, please insist on buying high quality genuine products from official sources such as official websites and authorized retailers only.
E-cigarettes have been one of the greatest inventions for many smokers who have been trying to quit the habit but have been unable to do so. However, the amount of misconceptions surrounding them have often prevented smokers from switching over to a product that is far less harmful. More countries have embraced the science of e-cigarettes and have begun to promote its adoption among smokers. It is important for all of us to understand the misconceptions surrounding e-cigarettes and make an informed decision based on facts, not myths.