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Health ministry warning of e-cig 'dangers' sparks national debate
HEALTH authorities in Spain have warned of the dangers of e-cigarettes and 'non-combustible tobacco' after finding carcinogenic substances in the liquid and vapour of the former and say the latter are even more addictive than traditional cigarettes.
The Inter-Territorial Health Commission, part of the ministry of health, says it 'cannot rule out' risks to the general population from 'passive vaping' and consider the risk of developing cancer is 'significant'.
Spanish pneumologists have been warning for some time that 'vapers' are suffering from lung conditions 'very similar' to those developed by smokers, and results of research published in the European Respiratory Journal claims the vapour from e-cigarettes can increase levels of bacteria that cause pneumonia.
These papers state that the vapour inhaled from e-cigarettes 'create a similar effect to that of traditional cigarettes' and increase the risk of lung infections.
Meanwhile, the national health authority says the glycerol – a substance derived from glycerine of vegetable sources – and propylenglycol found in cartridges used in e-cigarettes produce carcinogens, or potentially dangerous elements which are capable of generating cancer.
Along with these chemicals, e-cigarette cartridges contain nicotine to satisfy the physical craving produced in smokers, and which is said to activate the dopamine pathways in the brain creating a pleasant sensation.
The so-called 'non-combustible tobacco', first retailed in Spain in late 2016 by Philip Morris, the firm which manufactures Marlboro, creates vapour from tobacco leaves and nicotine, but does not need to be lit.
Health experts in Spain say these are just as dangerous and even more addictive than conventional cigarettes.
Unlike traditional cigarettes, where 78% of the price is tax, the tax element on the price of non-combustible cigarettes is 45%, whilst e-cigarettes are subject to IVA only, at the top rate of 21%.
But doctors who advocate vaping as a way of weaning smokers off cigarettes have accused the ministry of health of 'scaremongering'.
According to the organisation of doctors who support vaping, or MOVE, says over 70% of those who use nicotine patches or chewing gum in an attempt to give up smoking fail every year.
E-cigarettes produce a substance 'totally different' to that of tobacco, which is not reflected in the Commission's report, says MOVE spokeswoman Dr Carmen Escrig, who reveals that 20,000 smokers a year switch successfully to vaping in the UK and that Spain's 450,000 'vapers' will 'bear witness' to how e-cigarettes are more efficient and less harmful than traditional smoking.
A debate has opened in the UK about whether to offer e-cigarettes on prescription for patients who want to give up smoking.
But 'vaping' is still banned in all public areas where smoking is not permitted, in both countries.
In Spain, smoking is banned in bars and restaurants and owners of these premises cannot overrule the prohibition – they face a €3,000 fine if customers are caught smoking in the building – and 'vaping' is treated in the same way.
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