Health groups call for ban on new e-cigarette

Summary

The new product heats tobacco rather than burning it, and Flemish health organisations have called on the federal government to ban local sales until further safety studies are carried out

Launched in Europe

Flemish health organisations have issued a warning about the dangers associated with smoking a new kind of electronic cigarette, in which tobacco is heated rather than burned.

Tobacco giant Phillip Morris has launched the IQOS, referred to as a “heatstick”, in a number of European countries, claiming that fewer harmful substances are released when the tobacco is only heated.

The Flemish Institute for Health Promotion and Sickness Prevention (Vigez) and other organisations, including cancer fund Kom op tegen kanker, have written an open letter to public health minister Maggie De Block, De Standaard reports.

“The introduction of these heatsticks is a commercial strategy by the tobacco producer to make more profit, improve its image and circumvent tobacco legislation,” they said.

According to the organisations, nicotine is quickly released when using the product, which makes it very addictive, just like cigarettes. An IQOS cigarette dose is used up after five minutes, creating the urge to smoke another.

The organisations are more in favour of standard e-cigarettes as an alternatives to cigarettes. The IQOS contains tobacco, while smokers of e-cigarettes inhale vapours from a liquid that contains nicotine and other substances.

The quantity of nicotine can be adjusted with an e-cigarette, which is not the case for the IQOS.

They have called on De Block to ban the IQOS until independent studies show that it is safe for users and bystanders. The IQOS is not yet available in shops in Belgium but can be bought online.

Photo courtesy Phillip Morris

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