Tuesday December 11, 2018

Prohibiting use of E-Cigarettes to Consumers will be Huge Mistake: Experts

The seventh session of the Conference of the Parties that has brought together the WHO FCTC's 180 Parties is being held in Greater Noida from November 7-12

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E-cigarette, Pixabay
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New Delhi, November 11, 2016:  With the seventh session of the Conference of the Parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) bringing together delegates from almost every country across the world to India, a team of international experts has warned that any attempt to limit the choice of e-cigarettes to consumers would be a huge mistake and do untold harm to millions of smokers.

“Much of the campaign against e-cigarettes has been driven by emotion and ideology, not evidence,” said Riccardo Polosa, Director of the Institute for Internal and Emergency Medicine at University of Catania in Italy.

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Several studies have, in fact, shown that electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), of which e-cigarettes are the most common prototype, can help smokers quit and they are significantly less harmful than combustible cigarettes, according to the experts.

“In reality, no one is dying from this product,” Polosa said.

The seventh session of the Conference of the Parties that has brought together the WHO FCTC’s 180 Parties is being held in Greater Noida from November 7-12.

“There are widespread rumours in social media that delegations of countries with little or no experience on the topic are driving an agenda to prohibit ENDS,” Polosa and his colleagues said in a statement.

“Such a course of action would be a huge mistake and do untold harm to millions of smokers. We hope these rumours are untrue and do not reflect the current climate and the real intentions of WHO COP7 delegates. ENDS represent the greatest opportunity in generations to prevent and reduce the harm of smoking,” the statement added.

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Julian Morris, Vice President of Research at US-based non-profit Reason Foundation, emphasised that smokers need to have wide range of harm-reduction choices.

Konstantinos Farsalinos, a research fellow at the Onassis Cardiac Surgery Center in Athens, Greece, and Christopher Russell, a behavioural psychologist and senior research fellow at the Centre for Substance Use Research, Glasgow, Scotland were other signatories of the statement.

“Many states in India have banned the use of e-cigarettes without any evidence on their adverse effects,” Morris, who co-authored the paper “The Vapour Revolution: How Bottom Up Innovation is Saving Lives” with economist Amir Ullah Khan, noted.

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“In India, there is hardly any data on the extent of e-cigarette use. How is it possible to assess the impact of the product without any local data and surveillance?” Morris asked.

Experts who have assessed vapour produced by heating e-liquids in a vape device have found that it contains only a tiny fraction of the number of chemicals in tobacco smoke — and most of those chemicals are harmless, Morris and Khan noted in the paper.

Although not binding, the World Health Organisation and its Framework Convention on Tobacco Control exert considerable influence on domestic policies towards tobacco in many countries, and therefore the conference should include all stakeholders to encourage detailed deliberation and transparent decision-making, the experts pointed out. (IANS)

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Road Traffic Accidents Cause 1.35 Mn Deaths Each Year: WHO

WHO noted that 48 middle- and high-income countries that have implemented strong road traffic laws and other safety measures have made progress in reducing road deaths.

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Traffic Crashes, Road Traffic
Two bikes were involved in an accident with a bus that crashed and turned on its roof near the town of Franschhoek, South Africa, March 7, 2015. VOA

The World Health Organization (WHO) is calling for urgent action to put a brake on road traffic crashes that kill 1.35 million people every year, mostly in poor developing countries.

In Geneva, the U.N. agency launched its global status report on road safety 2018.

The report found road traffic injuries to be the leading killer of children and young people aged five to 29 years, with a death occurring every 24 seconds. The report said more than half of those killed are pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcycle riders and passengers.

Etienne Krug, head of the U.N. Agency’s Department on Disability, Violence and Injury Prevention, called these deaths a huge inequality issue.

Traffic Signals, Road Traffic
Traffic and congestion on roads is frequent in all cities of India. Wikimedia

“Low-income countries have one percent of the vehicles in the world and 13 percent of all the deaths; while high-income countries have 40 percent of all the vehicles,” Krug said. “So, that is 40 times more, but only seven percent of the deaths.That is half of the deaths with 40 times more vehicles.”

The report said death rates are highest in Africa and lowest in Europe. Some of the key risk factors include speeding, drinking and driving, and failure to use seat belts, motorcycle helmets and child restraints.

Krug said putting the right measures in place will save lives. These include the right legislation and enforcement, creating special lanes for cyclists and improving the quality of vehicles.

Road accidents in India
Road accidents in India. Pixabay

“It is not acceptable that vehicles are being sold in developing countries that look the same as the vehicles that we see here in Switzerland or the U.S. or anywhere else, but that are not,” Krug told VOA. “Because to make them cheaper, they have been stripped of all of their safety features, such as air bags or electronic stability control, etc.”

WHO noted that 48 middle- and high-income countries that have implemented strong road traffic laws and other safety measures have made progress in reducing road deaths.

Also Read: HIV Epidemic Spreading Rapidly in Pakistan: WHO

However, it said no such progress has been made in low-income countries where safety measures are lacking. (VOA)