Monday, December 19, 2016

MONEY MATTERS IN HEALTH&TECH :E-cigarettes have become a health dilemma

Dr George Kanani

Dr George Kanani 

By Dr George Kanani

In this era of digital world, technological advances continue to bring latest and unaccustomed technological products.

However, there are times when these technological products pose issues of major concerns with regard to health of individuals and concerns in healthcare system at large. Recent innovation of electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) in the market is one of practical instances that has brought a wide range of different views among healthcare stakeholders.

There is this debate going on all-over the globe as to whether E-cigarette use should be banned or not; worse enough, little is known with regard to its health implications.

The question remains, does e-cigarette use expose people to harmful risks as it is to ordinary cigarette use? It is controversial.

E-cigarette is a cigarette-shaped electronic device that is used to stimulate experience of smoking as liquid nicotine is vaporized and inhaled instead of burning tobacco.

It is also known as vaping, e-cigs. E-cigarette technology is one of the latest technologies and was invested in the year 2003.

Since its invention, e-cigarette use has been growing exponentially all-over the globe. It is common in developed nations like the US and in the UK.

Teenagers and adults are rapidly emerging consumers of e-cigs. It is estimated that there are over 2.5 million users in the UK.

E-cigarette manufacturing companies globally are earning lots of money. For instance, in 2014 alone, they made a global sales of around $7 billion.

E-cigarette market in Africa is projected to grow as well. South Africa is one of the African countries where e-cigarette is gaining popularity.

All over the continent, e-cigarette technology is penetrating the market. In Tanzania, they are being vapored by people residing in cities like Dar es salaam, Arusha and so on. However, we do not have data regarding the number of e-cigarette users in Tanzania.

The difference between e-cigarette vaping and traditional cigarette smoking is that the former does not contain tobacco, no flames, no ashes, no horrible smell and can be flavored.

Traditional cigarettes have variety of chemicals that are cancer-causing agents. Both types feel and taste the same and have addiction effect since they all have nicotine.

Studies show that majority of users say vaping help them quit traditional cigarette smoking. Thus e-cigs are used as substitutes and other reasons include recreational purposes. E-cigarette vapers believe vaping is safe and healthier than smoking.

With regard to e-cigarette manufacturers; these companies are intensively marketing for e-cigarette use as alternative to real cigarette use. Their marketing strategies continue to attract large number of users. Manufactures argue that e-cigarettes are much safer and only alternative to real cigarettes, though there is no evidence for that.

World Health Organization WHO is still inconclusive with regard to e-cigarette uses as long-term medication harms have not yet been established and the researches are going on.

In 2014, WHO framework convention on tobacco control (WHO FCTC) argued that smokeless tobacco product posed public health concern and there was a need to initiate e-cigarette regulation. WHO believes that e-cigarette vaping may act a geteway to smoking by these youths.

Some countries have completely banned the use of e-cigarettes, for example UAE. The reason behind the ban is uncertainty surrounding e-cigarette uses and the potential of e-cigarette users to become real cigarette smokers in the future.

It can not be argued to what extent African countries view the use e-cigarettes but I am sure there also shall be different perceptions when time comes.

Mixed views among health practitioners skyrocket the public views confusion and controversies.

Economists view e-cigarettes as a threat to tobacco exporters. Studies show that the e–cigarettes’ sales will top tradition cigarette sale by end 2047 because e-cigarettes are cheap and have lessened health implications.

With this view, Tanzania is one of the countries that will be affected as it shall lose it tobacco export market share of 1.8% worldwide.