Widespread misinformation about vaping hurts public health

Quitting cigarettes is one of the hardest things to do, as many former and current smokers know from painful personal experience. Public health and politicians must do better to help smokers quit. 700,000 deaths per year in the EU should be enough of an incentive to make us rethink our current approach.

To effectively help smokers quit for good, three conditions must be met:

Firstly, smokers must be able to choose from as many options as possible to find out what smoking cessation method works best for them. People are different, and therefore different ways to give up smoking must be made available and affordable. For very few people (less than 4%), quitting with no help works. For a few, nicotine replacement therapy (such as nicotine gums or patches) works, and it turns out that for many people, new nicotine alternatives help them with quitting smoking once and for all. Those products range from vaping and heat-not-burn products to snus or nicotine pouches. What all these new forms have in common is that they separate nicotine consumption from the combustion of tobacco (which produces the vast majority of the toxicity of smoking), making them far less harmful than smoking cigarettes. Each one is different, each working best for each different person.

62% of smokers in France and 53% in Germany believe anti-smoking policies ignore how difficult it is to stop smoking. Clearly, smokers are not satisfied with traditional cessation methods and therefore look to vaping as a means of quitting

Secondly, we need a modern, open regulatory framework to fit these new alternatives. These new products are not the same as smoking. Hence, they must not be painted with the same regulatory brush. What we need instead is risk-based regulation. Vaping is 95% less harmful than smoking and, therefore, must not be treated the same way. Harm reduction must become a centrepiece of anti-smoking policies, like in the field of pharmaceutical drugs. Harm reduction follows practical strategies and solutions to reduce harmful consequences associated with using certain substances instead of an unrealistic `just quit´ approach. Encouraging smokers who are not able to or don’t want to quit smoking to switch to vaping is a best-case example of harm reduction.

Thirdly, smokers must have accurate information about the potential risks of different products to make decisions. The same applies to medical professionals who are working with those smokers. They need to know the facts to make a lasting difference for smokers.

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Unleash the potential of vaping: lack of knowledge on vaping holds back smoking cessation

The Consumer Choice Center, together with World Vapers’ Alliance, recently presented a new survey conducted with 30 general practitioners and over 800 smokers in Germany and France – with an initial piece of good news: more than half of respondents want to quit smoking!

Awareness of the health effects of smoking tobacco has grown exponentially over the last decades, prompting policy-makers to make rules to curb usage. However, just like any vice that carries risk, prohibitive and strict measures have not yielded the desired results.

Standard nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) is recognised, observed, and covered by social security systems, despite showing very limited effects in the efforts of helping those who choose to quit, do so. Vaping has presented consumers with the opportunity to satisfy the need for nicotine, all while posing a fraction of the harm. Vaping is 95% less harmful than using conventional cigarettes, and is simultaneously the most successful smoking cessation tool.

Knowing all this, we can say that vaping is to nicotine use what seatbelts are to driving or what condoms are to sexual encounters: while it may be safer to not use nicotine at all, not drive a car, or not have sex, it is crucial to apply harm reduction. Since the invention of the first e-cigarette in 2003, vaping has come a long way in offering a choice to smokers who wish to quit, and has done so with far less risks involved than cigarettes.

Unfortunately, accurate reporting on vaping is sometimes hard to find. A lot of readers might recall the spike in EVALI (E-cigarette, or Vaping Product, Use Associated Lung Injury) cases in the United States in 2019, which was blamed on vaping. To this day, these cases have disincentivised smokers from switching, even though it has been shownthat affected users had been consuming THC-containing e-liquids from the illicit market. Unbeknownst to buyers at the time, vitamin E acetate had been added to those liquids, with fatal consequences for those who consumed them. All the story really did was underline the importance of a regulated and legal market for vaping products, which prevents leaving the market to bootleggers.

When advocating for harm reduction, organisations such as ours don’t just run into media scare stories, but also into widespread misconceptions. The CCC/WVA survey showed that 33% of smokers in France and 43% in Germany believe vaping is as harmful or more harmful than cigarettes. The erroneous beliefs on nicotine stretch even further: 69% of smokers in France and 74% of smokers in Germany believe nicotine causes cancer, which is far removed from the scientific evidence. Experts on nicotine have long known this, yet the information has not permeated to the public, to politicians, or to general practitioners.

Doctors are essential change-makers when it comes to the unhealthy habits of their patients. However, our survey has shown that too many doctors share ill-informed views on nicotine, or aren’t even aware of the concept of harm reduction. As a result, most doctors do not recommend vaping as a smoking cessation tool. Their views on nicotine (they often believe it causes lung damage) is also fundamentally incoherent: if nicotine were to cause lung damage, why would doctors recommend NRTs, all of which contain nicotine?

Tobacco harm reduction has a long way to go before reaching the ambitious targets of large-scale smoking cessation. Information is therefore crucial: the demonisation of the most successful harm reduction tool needs to stop, and so do punitive rules and regulations. Vaping ought to be at the core of any upcoming policy changes designed to curb tobacco consumption, instead of being the target of overtaxation.

Originally published here

The study reveals 62% of smokers in France and 53% in Germany believe anti-smoking policies ignore how difficult it is to stop smoking

The study commissioned by Consumer Choice Center and written in cooperation with the World Vapers’ Alliance reveals several misconceptions about nicotine and harm reduction among healthcare practitioners and consumers.

The survey on Perceptions on Tobacco Harm Reduction and Nicotine in France and Germany was conducted to gain a greater insight into the impact of misperceptions about vaping among general practitioners, smokers, and policymakers, on the future harm reduction policy in Europe. The survey features 30 interviews with general practitioners and a quantitative survey of 862 French and German smokers.

Key findings:

  • Only three out of 15 doctors in Germany say they know the term harm reduction.
  • 33% of smokers in France and 43% in Germany wrongly believe vaping is as harmful or more harmful than cigarettes.
  • 69% of smokers in France and 74% of smokers in Germany wrongly believe nicotine causes cancer.
  • 62% of smokers in France and 53% in Germany believe anti-smoking policies ignore how difficult it is to stop smoking.

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Pentingnya Meningkatkan Penelitian Produk-Produk Tembakau Alternatif di Dalam Negeri

Vape atau rokok elektrik saat ini merupakan produk yang kerap menimbulkan pro dan kontra dari berbagai kalangan. Bagi sebagian kalangan, vape atau rokok elektrik merupakan produk yang sangat berbahaya bagi kesehatan, sehingga harus dilarang secara penuh, atau setidaknya diregulasi secara sangat ketat.

Sementara itu, bagi kalangan lain, vape atau rokok elektrik dianggap sebagai produk yang sangat penting, khususnya untuk membantu para perokok untuk berhenti merokok. Untuk itu, bila pemerintah melarang atau meregulasi produk-produk vape secara sangat ketat, maka kebijakan tersebut merupakan sesuatu yang tidak tepat, kerena hal tersebut akan membatasi kesempatan para perokok untuk mendapatkan produk alternatf lain yang dapat membantu menghilangkan kebiasaan merokoknya.

Terlepas dari pro dan kontra tersebut, tidak bisa dipungkiri bahwa, fenomena penggunaan produk-produk rokok elektrik merupakan hal yang kian meningkat dari waktu ke waktu, khususnya bagi mereka yang tinggal di masyarakat urban. Pada tahun 2017, diperkirakan ada sekitar 900 ribu pengguna vape di Indonesia. Dalam jangka waktu 3 tahun, tepatnya tahun 2020, angka tersebut meningkat pesat menjadi 2,2 juta pengguna vape di negara kita (medcom.id, 22/01/2021).

Fenomena semakin meningkatnya pengguna vape ini juga bukan merupakan hal tarjadi di Indonesia saja, tetapi juga di dunia secara keseluruhan. Berdasarkan laporan dari Global Harm Reduction 2021 misalnya, secara total diperkirakan ada 82 juta pengguna vape di seluruh dunia. Angka ini meningkat dari sebelumnya sekitar 68 juta pengguna vape aktif di dunia pada tahun 2020 (tribunnews.com, 22/06/2022).

Untuk itu, tentunya kerangka kebijakan yang tepat dalam menghadapi fenomena ini merupakan sesuatu yang sangat penting yang harus dilakukan oleh para pembuat kebijakan. Tanpa adanya kebijakan yang tepat, tentunya konsumen menjadi salah satu pihak yang paling dirugikan, selain tentunya para pekerja yang mendapatkan penghasilannya dari industri tersebut.

Untuk mampu merancang kebijakan yang tepat, salah satu langkah utama yang sanga penting untuk dilakukan tentunya adalah dengan melakukan riset dan penelitian terlebih dahulu terkait dengan produk-produk rokok elektrik, dan juga produk-produk tembakau alternatif lainnya secara lebih luas. Tanpa adanya penelitian yang memadai, tentunya akan sangat sulit bagi kita untuk bisa menemukan kebijakan yang tepat dalam merespon fenomena semakin tingginya pengguna vape di Indonesia.

Di berbagai negara lain, penelitian terahdap produk-produk rokok elektrik atau vape merupakan sesuatu yang sudah sangat banyak dilakukan, salah satunya adalah Britania Raya. Pada tahun 2015, lembaga kesehatan publik asal Inggris, Public Health England (PHE), mengeluarkan laporan yang menunjukkan bahwa, vape atau rokok elektrik 95% jauh lebih tidak berbahaya bila dibandingkan dengan rokok konvensional yang dibakar (www.gov.uk, 19/08/2015).

Hasil dari penelitian tersebut tentunya memiliki dampak yang sangat signifikan terhadap para pembuat kebijakan di Britania Raya untuk menyusun kebijakan terkait vape dan produk tembakau alternatif lainnya secara tepat. Britania Raya sendiri akhirnya menjadi salah satu negara pelopor yang menjadikan produk tersebut sebagai produk alternatif untuk membantu para perokok untuk berhentu merokok (insidesources.com, 03/05/2021).

Negara kita tentu bisa belajar dari langkah yang dilakukan oleh Pemerintah Inggris. Riset dan penelitian mengenai vape dan produk tembakau alternatif lainnya masih cukup kurang di negara kita, yang membuat masih banyaknya berbagai kabar misinformasi terkait dengan produk-produk tersebut, seperti vape atau rokok elektrik memiliki kandungan yang sama bahayanya atau bahkan lebih berbahaya dari rokok konvensional yang dibakar.

Hal ini juga diakui oleh beberapa pihak terkait di Indonesia, salah satuya adalah Asosiasi Vapers Indonesia (AVI). AVI menyatakan bahwa, industri vape dan produk-produk tembakau alternatif lainnya merupakan industri yang saat ini sedang mengalami perkembangan di Indonesia, dan untuk itu dibutuhkan penelitian yang lebih besar terkait dengan produk-produk tersebut (tribunnews.com, 22/06/2022).

Melalui penelitian yang memadai, tentu hal tersebut dapat membantu para pengambil kebijakan untuk mengeluarkan kbeijakan terkait vape dan produk tembakau alternatif lainnya yang tepat, agar tidak merugikan para konsumen dan juga para pekerja. Jangan sampai, regulasi dan juga auran yang diberlakukan etrsebut justru menjadi kontraproduktif, dan justru merugikan para konsumen karena membuat mereka lebih sulit untuk mendapatkan produk alternatif tembakau yang memiliki resiko jauh lebih rendah.

Sebagai penutup, adanya penelitian yang memadai terhadap rokok elektrik, dan juga produk-produk tembakau alternatif lainnya, merupakan hal yang sangat penting, agar para pembuat kebijakan bisa menyusun kerangka kebijakan yang tepat terkait dengan produk-produk tersebut. Dengan demikian, diharapkan para pembuat kebijakan dapat menyusun kebijakan yang tepat, yang dapat membantu jutaan para perokok di Indonesia untuk menghentikan kebiasaan merokoknya yang sangat berbahaya bagi kesehatan.

Originally published here

Harm Reduction Takes a U-Turn on Vaping

Public health officials and those with significant sway in setting health policy were joyous last month when the Food and Drug Administration denied the ability of Juul Labs to continue selling its vaping device.

Handed down as a Marketing Denial Order, the decision forces gas stations, retailers and vape shops to pull Juul devices off the shelves, depriving consumers of their ability to buy these products through legal means.

Though the company has won a temporary stay by the D.C. District Court of Appeals, the FDA’s recent “nicotine zero” mandate — including limits on nicotine in cigarettes and bans on menthol tobacco products — shows the administration won’t back down on its plans to reduce nicotine consumption.

But that would be a real missed opportunity for public health.

Rather than banning consumer products or setting rigorous — if not impossible — standards for getting vaping products to market, the FDA could follow the president’s rhetoric and endorse tobacco harm reduction as an alternative.

As a matter of public health, harm reduction is one of the key pillars of President Biden’s National Drug Control Strategy, as he revealed in this year’s State of the Union address. This includes education, support, clean needle exchanges and safe injection sites for those addicted to drugs like heroin and other prescriptions. If this path is virtuous for those addicted to opioids, why shouldn’t it be the same for those addicted to nicotine, as practiced elsewhere?

The United Kingdom not only recognizes the benefits of vaping devices but actively recommends them in their own materials and the National Health Service, their state health system, championing the 1.2 million British vapers who have now quit smoking. Health wards in New Zealand routinely offer vaping products to patients.

If the United Kingdom and New Zealand can cite various studies and health surveys demonstrating that vaping devices are 95 percent less harmful than smoking, why does this evidence fail in crossing the ocean to American regulators?

If the latest Gallup polls are believed, 6 percent of Americans are vapers, most of whom make less than $40,000 yearly. That is the equivalent of 20 million vapers who have chosen a less harmful product to quell their nicotine cravings.

Twice that number —nearly 40 million — are still smokers, according to the CDC. Pivoting to a harm reduction strategy could easily save millions of lives.

That includes recognizing the vape shop owners, passionate vaper community groups, and tobacco control professionals who have come to rely on an entire industry of vaping products as a more effective strategy in eliminating the harms of tobacco.

Those who applaud the administration’s actions on Juul point to the company’s past advertising to youth and the higher uptake of young people to vaping devices. These are troubling situations that deserve careful consideration, public scorn and action, especially considering the effects of nicotine on adolescent brains.

That said, rather than mitigating these harms to young people and addressing them properly, why are we so quick to abandon 40 million smokers from the opportunity to switch to a less harmful product to satisfy their addiction?

Most vapers enjoy products from a competitive marketplace of open tank systems, disposables and pod tanks far from the grip of any tobacco executive. This point is often overlooked in the public debate on vaping.

If the pandemic taught us anything about public perceptions of risk, it is that we must empower individuals to make decisions to improve their own situation rather than making it for them.

Thwarting adult consumers’ ability to choose a healthier option is denying the genuine health benefits that come with embracing harm reduction.

We have laws for a reason, and they should be enforced to keep vape devices away from the hands of youth. Education and strong parental supervision would do wonders in keeping a generation from addiction.

But completely abandoning the prospect of a smoke-free society would be a folly, and it’s time our public health officials admit it.

Originally published here

FDA’s Juul crackdown is the latest blow in the irrational war on nicotine

Last week, the Food and Drug Administration handed down a consequential decision affecting millions of consumers: a marketing denial order for Juul Labs, maker of the popular pod-based Juul vaping device.

It’s best summarized as an immediate ban on Juul products.

This forces gas stations, convenience stores, vape shops, and other establishments that stock these devices and their flavored pods to immediately stop selling them to customers who want them.

Now, the FDA’s actions have been temporarily halted by the D.C. Appeals Court, giving the company additional time to argue its case in the judicial system.

While the judicial order is a fleeting sigh of relief for users of these products, it marks only the latest causality in the public health establishment’s irrational war on nicotine and nicotine products. And a sign that yet more denials will continue to reduce consumers’ access to nicotine alternatives, products known to be much less harmful than smoking.

The convoluted and byzantine process Juul failed is known as the Premarket Tobacco Product Application, an FDA-mandated permission test for any firm wanting to sell a new tobacco product (all pre-2007 are grandfathered in).  As one would guess, the standards for this test are opaque, unclear, and entirely arbitrary.

Only a handful of vaping products have been able to pass the FDA’s mandate of “improving public health” since 2015, and only one not made by a tobacco company. As of writing, there are tens of thousands of vaping devices, liquids, and component parts still awaiting their fate from the FDA.

That latter point is an important one because the FDA — and laws passed by Congress — now recognize vaping products, even those containing synthetic rather than tobacco-derived nicotine, as tobacco, which justified this strenuous process.

What the bureaucratic labyrinth forced on every mom-and-pop vaping firm and tobacco company alike shows us is that the FDA has a persistent bias against consumer use of nicotine vaping — and nicotine more broadly.

On its own website, the FDA lists the products it has approved for quitting smoking, mainly pharmaceutical drugs like Chantix and Zyban, or nicotine patches or gums from Nicorette, distributed in the U.S. by pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline.

The United Kingdom’s government, on the other hand, recognizes the benefits of vaping devices and actively recommends them, citing the figure of 1.2 million British vapers who have now quit smoking.

The UK cites internationally available scientific research and endorsements by health bodies as another reason why smokers should consider putting down their cigarettes for a vape. Does the FDA not have access to this data? Or is this part of a bigger trend?

In the same month the FDA handed down this decision, it is seeking public comments on its proposed bans on flavored cigars and menthol cigarettes and will soon introduce a rule limiting nicotine levels allowed in cigarettes. How these rules will impact the relationship between law enforcement and minority communities –  who use menthol products more often – has yet to be clarified, and neither has the risk of increased illicit markets, already the case in Massachusetts and Canada, which have their own menthol bans.

To think that when states are looking to legalize cannabis to end the drug war, it is baffling that we are beginning a new drug war on nicotine at the same time.

In all of this, the leading assumption, as the FDA website clearly states, is that people looking to quit already have the answers, and those answers are pharmaceutical products or nicotine abstinence programs that have received the government stamp of approval.

The millions of Americans who have quit smoking through vaping devices bought at gas stations or vape shops are taking a risk the FDA deems too dangerous, or as many health campaigners note are “more dangerous” than smoking.

Those claims stand against a litany of scientific studies and papers that prove that vaping is a less harmful alternative to tobacco use.

Why then, would noted anti-tobacco groups such as the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the Lung Association, and others be so focused on banning vaping products?

The nationwide anti-vaping efforts represent an organized effort by activist and tobacco control groups — often connected to the funding of billionaire former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg — to try to eliminate vaping as a safe and accessible nicotine alternative to combustible cigarettes.

We know this from several countries where these groups helped push vaping bans, such as Mexico and the Philippines, but also from Bloomberg’s $160 million grant to US organizations to campaign against youth vaping.

The pivot away from tobacco to focus on vaping, especially the “youth vaping crisis,” is as much about the money as it is the numbers.

According to the CDC, the current U.S. smoking rate is just 12.5%, down from over 20% not more than a decade ago. Nicotine alternatives like vaping devices, snus, and pouches have played a large role in this, as have broader cultural taboos on smoking.

And while the justification for restricting vape devices is because of youth use, the CDC’s own data shows that less than 0.6% of high schoolers used a Juul device more than once a month, down considerably over just two years. That downtrend trend is consistent among all vape products.

The confusion comes with how the data is tabulated, showing the percentage breakdown of high schoolers who vape and the products they use, often leading politicians and campaigners with the impression that far greater young people try vaping than they do. And this does not include those who vape cannabis products, which in former surveys showed higher numbers than nicotine vaping.

Regardless of those facts, vaping is in the crosshairs.

Despite the millions spent, there is no admission that responsible adults use these products in far greater numbers, and have positive health outcomes as a result.

This latter point has, thankfully, been taken up by a select group of tobacco researchers who understand the continuum of risk and laud vaping’s potential for getting smokers to quit, including Cliff Douglas, director of the University of Michigan Tobacco Research Network and the former vice president for tobacco control at the American Cancer Society.

Were this a rational and science-based conversation and regulatory process, those positive health outcomes would be a no-brainer. Unfortunately, as we have seen with the global war against vaping products, this is more an ideological battle than a mission of pure health.

The FDA has been all too willing to play this game in the court of politics, and they should be condemned for doing so.

Yaël Ossowski is a Canadian-American writer and deputy director at the Consumer Choice Center.

Taxing vaping promotes smoking. So why is Ottawa doing that?

Heavy-handed vaping regulations and taxation do nothing but create more smokers

Health Canada announced last week that warning labels will now be required on each and every cigarette in a pack. That global first is part of Canada’s goal to have fewer than five per cent of Canadians smoke by 2035. It’s hard to tell what effect similar measures have had in the past but for whatever reasons tobacco use in Canada has been on a significant decline over the last 15 years. In 2007, 31 per cent of Canadians identified as regular smokers. By 2020, that number was down to just 11 per cent. That’s certainly good news. We all know the devastating impact smoking can have. Approximately 48,000 Canadians die each year from tobacco-related illnesses.

But while the decline in smoking is cause for celebration, new vaping regulations from Ottawa could actually run counter to Health Canada’s smoke-free 2035 goal by pushing some former smokers back to smoking.

Vaping, which is nicotine consumption without the combustion of cigarettes, is dramatically less harmful than smoking, and is therefore widely considered a useful harm reduction tool for smokers trying to quit. A 2017 study from researchers at the University of California found that U.S. census data showed vaping had contributed to a significant increase in smoking cessation. It therefore recommended positive public health communications supporting vaping. That’s the approach being taken in England, with positive results. After Public Health England deemed vaping 95 per cent less harmful than smoking, the U.K. Office of Health decided to promote vaping to adult smokers as part of the country’s own plan to be smoke-free by 2035. It has even created a “swap to stop” program in which smokers can trade in their cigarettes for free vaping devices.

Unfortunately, Canada’s approach to vaping does not embrace harm reduction in the same way the U.K.’s does. Where narcotics and other drugs are concerned, harm reduction is the order of the day in Ottawa. But when it comes to tobacco products, for some reason eradication is still the goal. Thus Ottawa has already sought to ban all vape flavours except tobacco and mint/menthol — even though nearly half of Canadian vapers use flavours as their preferred method to leaving smoking behind, and for good reason. A nationally representative longitudinal study of over 17,000 Americans showed that adults who used flavoured vaping products were 2.3 times more likely to quit smoking when compared to vapers who consumed tobacco-flavoured vaping products. Why is not hard to understand. If you are trying to quit tobacco, being limited to vaping products that taste like tobacco isn’t very helpful.

But Ottawa isn’t just targeting vape flavours. Now it’s also scaling up taxation. The new tax it proposed in April’s budget would add $7 to the price of a 30mL bottle of vape liquid, $10 for a 60 mL bottle, and $14 for a 100 mL bottle. For those who vape with cartridge devices, a four-pack of one-millilitre cartridges, which usually retails for between $24-$26, would have an extra $4 tacked on.

What will be the effect of these tax hikes?

Vape prices are very likely to rise. A 2020 working paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research that analyzed data from 35,000 U.S. retailers found that for every dollar increase in taxation vape prices rose between $0.91 and $1.16, meaning that the tax is almost entirely passed on to consumers. For a four-pack of one-millilitre cartridges, prices can be expected to increase between $3.64-$4.64.

And how will vapers respond to these price hikes? Many will go back to smoking. That same NBER study showed that a $1 increase in vape taxes increased cigarette sales by fully 10 per cent.

From a public health perspective this is exactly the wrong approach. We know that vaping is a very useful harm reduction tool. Targeting vaping with flavour bans and high taxation will certainly discourage people from vaping but it will also encourage some former smokers to go back to cigarettes and keep some current smokers from switching to vaping. If Canada wants to have any shot at achieving its smoke-free 2035 goal, we should follow the U.K.’s lead and incorporate vaping as a means to that end. Heavy-handed vaping regulations and taxation do nothing but create more smokers, and no one wins if that happens.

Originally published here

Pentingnya Regulasi Berbeda antara Rokok dan Produk Tembakau Alternatif

Konsumsi rokok elektrik saat ini merupakan salah satu fenomena yang sangat umum dan semakin meningkat seiring berjalannya waktu. Bagi kita yang tinggal di wilayah urban, dengan mudah bisa menemukan tidak sedikit orang yang mengkonsumsi rokok elektrik, dan juga berbagai produk vape dan rokok elektrik yang dijual di berbagai toko dan pusat perbelanjaan.

Fenomena semakin meningkatnya konsumsi vape ini juga menarik perhatian banyak pihak. Bagi sebagian pihak, fenomena ini merupakan sesuatu yang negatif, karena vape atau produk tembakau alternatif lainnya dianggap sebagai produk yang sama berbahayanya, atau bahkan lebih berbahaya bila dibandingkan dengan rokok konvensional yang dibakar.

Oleh karena itu, bagi sebagian kalangan, kebijakan pelarangan atau setidaknya pembatasan ketat bagi produk-produk alternatif tembakau seperti rokok elektrik merupakan sesuatu yang tepat untuk dilakukan. Hal in idikarenakan, produk-produk tembakau alternatif seperti rokok elektrik dianggap sebagai salah satu ancaman besar bagi kesehatan publik.

Sementara itu, pihak lainnya memiliki pandangan yang cukup positif, atau setidaknya optimis, melihat fenomena tersebut. Hal ini dikarenakan bahwa, berdasarkan berbagai laporan penelitian, diketahui bahwa rokok elektrik atau vape merupakan produk yang jauh lebih tidak berbahaya bila dibandingkan dengan rokok konvensional yang dibakar.

Dengan semakin meningkatnya pengguna vape atau rokok elektrik, maka diharapkan pengguna rokok konvensional yang dibakar juga akan semakin berkurang. Dengan demikian, berbagai penyakit kronis berbahaya yang disebabkan karena penggunaan rokok konvensional yang dibakar dapat dimitigasi. Dengan demikian, langkah untuk melarang atau membatasi rokok elektrik merupakan kebijakan yang kontraproduktif, karena hal tersebut akan semakin mempersulit para konsumen untuk mendapatkan akses terhadap produk alternatif dari rokok konvensional yang lebih tidak berbahaya.

Informasi mengenai bahwa produk tembakau alternatif jauh lebih tidak berbahaya bila dibandingkan dengan rokok konvensional yang dibakar merupakan hal yang sudah diketahui sejak beberapa tahun lalu. Salah satu lembaga kesehatan yang mengeluarkan laporan mengenai hal tersebut adalah lembaga kesehatan publik Inggris, Public Health England (PHE), pada tahun 2015 lalu (theguardian.com, 28/12/2018).

Laporan tersebut tentu merupakan laporan yang sangat penting untuk diperhatikan, terutama bila kita ingin menyusun regulasi yang tepat terkait dengan produk-produk tembakau alternatif seperti rokok elektrik. Salah satunya adalah, bagaimana kita dapat memanfaatkan produk-produk tembakau alternatif seperti rokok elektrik, untuk membantu para perokok untuk mengurangi hingga berhenti secara total menggunakan rokok konvensional yang dibakar, yang sangat berbahaya bagi kesehatan.

Salah satu langkah awal untuk menyusun regulasi yang tepat tersebut adalah dengan tidak menyetarakan antara produk-produk rokok konvensional yang dibakar dengan produk-produk tembakau alternatif seperti rokok elektrik. Hal ini tentu merupakan sesuatu yang penting mengingat dampak negatif dari produk tembakau alternatif jauh lebih kecil bila dibandingkan dengan rokok konvensional yang dibakar.

Menjadikan vape atau rokok elektrik sebagai alat untuk membantu perokok menghentikan kebiasaan merokoknya merupakan hal yang sudah dilakukan oleh jutaan orang di seluruh dunia, teramsuk juga tentunya di Indonesia. Berdasarkan riset yang dilakukan oleh Universitas Trisakti misalnya, menunjukkan bahwa setidaknya ada 30% responden yang menyatakan bahwa mereka menggunakan produk-produk vape alternatif sebagai sarana untuk berhenti merekok (vapemagz.co.id, 20/05/2022).

Sementara itu, 11% responden lainnya menyatakan bahwa mereka menggunakan vape untuk alasan kesehatan, dan 9% lainnya menggunakan produk-produk tembakau alternatif atas anjuran dari ahli kesehatan. Oleh karena itu, setidaknya 80% dari seluruh responden menyatakan bahwa promosi tembakau alternatif harus lebih dimasifkan sebagai salah satu upaya untuk berhenti merokok (vapemagz.co.id, 20/05/2022).

Dengan adanya regulasi yang berbeda, diharapkan hal tersebut uga akan semakin merangsang para pelaku industri, khususnya industri dengan skala kecil dan menengah, untuk masuk ke dalam sektor produk-produk tembakau alternatif. Hal ini juga berarti tidak hanya semakin membantu konsumen untuk menyediakan sarana untuk mereka agar berhenti merokok, namun juga akan berpotensi membuka dan menyerap semakin banyak tenaga kerja.

Selain itu, tidak hanya regulasi yang berbeda, dibutuhkan juga upaya untuk meningkatkan berbagai riset dan penelitian terkait dengan rokok elektrik dan juga produk-produk tembakau alternatif lainnya. Penelitian dan riset ini merupakan sesuatu yang sangat penting, sebagai landasan untuk menyusun kebijakan dan regulasi yang tepat. Saat ini, berbagai riset dan penelitian terkait dengan produk-produk vape alternatif dilakukan oleh lembaga-lembaga dari luar negeri (financial.detik.com, 22/05/2022).

Sebagai penutup, penyusunan kebijakan vape dan juga produk-produk tembakau alternatif lainnya yang tepat, dan juga peningkatan riset dan penelitian terkait denga produk-produk tersebut, merupakan hal yang sangat penting. Hal ini sangat penting mengingat Indonesia merupakan salah satu negara dengan populasi perokok tertinggi di dunia, dan produk-produk tembakau alternatif dapat digunakan sebagai salah satu alat untuk membantu para perokok menghentikan kebiasaannya yang sangat berbahaya.

Originally published here

Malaysia Towards A Vape Regulated Nation

Big Industry players are acknowledging that vaping is not risk-free, but there is growing scientific evidence that it is certainly less harmful than smoking cigarettes. Risk-proportionate regulations and taxation for vaping are being called to encourage smokers to switch to a low-risk alternative. With the Malaysian Government introducing a taxation on nicotine vapes, many in the vaping industry are exhaling a sigh of relief as the grey line lingering over nicotine taxation has loomed for the longest time. 

In relation to that, the public are commending the Malaysian government for moving in the right direction of regulating it instead of an outright ban, as vaping products play a crucial role in reducing the enormous health burden caused by cigarette smoking.

Malaysia towards regulating vape products 

The aftermath of banning vaping will only open doors for the prevalence of the black market, which poses the danger of owning and inhaling substandard products. With nicotine vapes being legal for sale and consumption, the lack of regulation needs to be addressed to prevent consumers from falling prey to black market products, perceiving netizens who are forthrightly switching to vaping as a choice. 

It is in the best interest of the nation to quickly roll out proper regulations to benefit the Malaysian economy as it could lose an estimated RM1 billion tax revenue from vape products alone, being too substantial to remain unregulated. 

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Harm reduction strategy stressed to achieve Tobacco-free nation by 2040

Speakers in a discussion have urged policymakers to incorporate Tobacco harm reduction strategy in their tobacco control plans and establish safer alternatives such as vaping products as smoking cessation medium like progressive nations around the world.

Voice of Vapers Bangladesh organised the discussion titled “The Need for a Tobacco Harm Reduction Strategy: Achieving the Government’s Health Agenda & Revenue Ambitions” at a Dhaka hotel on Saturday to mark the World Vape Day 2022.

Health Diplomats’ president Dr Delon Human said that Bangladesh was widely recognized as a resilient nation, known for her prowess to prove her critics wrong.

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