Why Hong Kong should shun vaping: the risks aren’t fully understood yet

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 09 August, 2018, 5:04pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 09 August, 2018, 5:23pm

I disagree with the views of James Lim (“Vaping helped me to quit smoking: Hong Kong should offer that option”, July 31) and Andrew da Roza (“Hong Kong needs to clear the air on e-cigarettes for the sake of its smokers”, July 11).

In fact, a report published in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine in 2016 found that the odds of quitting smoking were 28 per cent lower in adult smokers who used e-cigarettes, compared to those who did not. And a US study published this week in the Paediatrics journal says teenagers who use e-cigarettes or hookah water pipes are up to four times more likely to use marijuana later.

The US National Institute on Drug Abuse cites research that suggests “e-cigarettes can lead to nicotine addiction and increased risk for addiction to other drugs”, and highlights how “their easy availability, alluring advertisements, various e-liquid flavours, and the belief that they’re safer than cigarettes have helped make them appealing to this age group”.

Watch: Vaping sweeps US high schools

Stubbing out demand: sale of e-cigarettes set to be regulated

Also, many people who use e-cigarettes continue to smoke, just adding this form of smoking to their daily tobacco use. An American study earlier this year established that e-cigarette use by youth and young adults increases their risk of transitioning to conventional cigarettes, even though it may help existing adult smokers to quit.

E-cigarettes are not risk-free, and smokers overall are a health hazard

Recent studies have suggested that nicotine from e-cigarettes can damage DNA in ways that could lead to heart disease or even cancer, as these devices contain and emit numerous potentially toxic substances. Again, there are researchers who refute these findings, and Public Health England earlier this year said e-cigarettes should be available on prescription, as they are helping more smokers to quit.

Given the relatively recent introduction of vaping devices, and conflicting messages from the lack of detailed information on the negatives involved, it is better that we discourage such forms of smoking as well.

Eunice Li, Shanghai