LEGAZPI CITY -  Electronic cigarettes or e-cigarettes, which have gained popularity following the imposition of higher taxes on tobacco, is not a healthy substitute for smoking regular cigarettes, health authorities disclosed.

The Department of Health regional office here insisted that instead of being an aid for smokers to quit the habit, the gadget – an electronic inhaler that vaporizes a liquid solution  simulating tobacco smoking -  pose dangers to health.

“It should not be considered as substitute to typical tobacco products since e-cigarettes still emit smoke that contain harmful substances,” DOH regional director Gloria Balboa said here Friday.

At the culmination of the National No Smoking activities sponsored by the Albay provincial government, Balboa said e-cigarettes are no longer marketed as smoking cessation aids or tobacco replacment in most countries after it was found they pose health hazards.

The World Health Organization said no rigorous, peer-reviewed studies have been conducted showing that the electronic cigarette is a safe and effective nicotine-replacement therapy.

Although WHO does not discount the possibility that the electronic cigarette could be useful as a smoking cessation aid, it insisted that claims that gadget can help smokers quit need to be backed up by clinical studies and toxicity analyses and operate within the proper regulatory framework.

According to Wikipedia, proponents of electronic cigarettes often claim that these deliver the experience of smoking while eliminating the smell and health risks associated with tobacco smoke.

They claim that base liquids — which include propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin and sometimes polyethylene glycol 400 — have been widely used as a food additive, as a base solution for personal care products such as toothpaste, and in medical devices such as asthma inhalers.

However, the health effects of inhaling their vapor into the lungs are a subject of uncertainty.

E-cigarettes, Balboa said, give tobacco addicts more or less the same amount of nicotine as a conventional cigarette.

Last year, she said the American Lung Association issued its own warning about e-cigarettes, saying the product may actually be more harmful than traditional cigarettes since the doses of nicotine in an e-cigarette can be higher than a typical cigarette.

While e-cigarettes have been gaining favor among Filipinos as higher tobacco taxes make smoking more expensive, the Food and Drug Administration said that wittingly or unwittingly, the electronic cigarette promotes smoking among children and the youth, given that it makes them less fearful of hazards and risks of the vice.

The FDA also tested a small sample of the contents of e-cigarettes few years ago and found a number of toxic chemicals including diethylene glycol — the same ingredient used in antifreeze.

The findings forced the FDA to issue a nationwide health warning.

Balboa reiterated that smoking is the cause of four deadly diseases–obstructive pulmonary diseases, lung cancer, kidney diseases and diabetes.

It harms not only the smoker but also persons who may inhale second hand smoke.

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