Smoke out

HEALTH officials have issued a call for the ban of tobacco products, on the heels of concerns expressed by youth about the tactics being used to lure their peers into purchasing e-cigarettes.

The call comes from panellists who on Friday highlighted the negative impacts of vaping products, during the launch of the Healthy Caribbean Coalition Report on Vaping and Youth in the Caribbean.

Advisor for the Jamaica Coalition for Tobacco Control/Healthy Caribbean Coalition Barbara McGaw said while flavouring has assisted vendors in being more creative in selling e-cigarettes, the option of buying different levels of nicotine for the product is also alarming.

“The flavours and flavouring have a severe impact because some of the e-cigarettes have a capsule while some of them are not pre-authorised, and you actually have some where you can put nicotine in your own product,” she said.

“Even the amount of nicotine that would be in one of these capsules is probably equal to 10 or 12 cigarettes. In the e-cigarettes you can buy different levels of nicotine and put it in the capsules but you can also make your own where you mix it with other products. Looking at banning tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship — that is where we really need to go,” she added.

Recently, during a World No Tobacco Day Youth Forum, primary- and secondary-level students asserted that the pretty packages and a variety of flavours for e-cigarettes have captivated the attention of their peers .

Expressing his concern, senior legal advisor at Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids Daniel Lopez pointed to a report from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) which said that 85 per cent of youth stated that they use e-cigarettes due to their variety of flavours.

“It is very worrisome; flavoured products are driving the youth. The content of the products have been a very strong driving force to pull forth the youth in the industry,” he said.

Lopez said some countries such as China and Ukraine have already banned the vaping products, and he is urging other countries to follow suit.

“Here in the [United] States and all around the world, very attractive-named flavours are designed to hook [the] younger population. You can see how kids have shifted dramatically to these products. The only way to tackle this issue and to end the use of these flavoured products is by banning e-cigarettes,” he said.

Meanwhile, Healthy Caribbean youth member and youth tobacco control advocate Dorial Quintyne said she agrees with the concerns 100 per cent, noting that the flavours of the e-cigarettes continue to be a big issue.

“I have seen reports of their being about 15,000 different flavours – all combinations including banana, mangoes, peppermint — and I think this also poses a very interesting issue with second-hand vape smoke,” said Quintyne.

“I think a lot of young people generally don’t like the smell of cigarettes so I think young people might not be really concerned if someone vapes around them because it doesn’t smell unpleasant — but they are still exposed to the nicotine as well as the other particulates in the vape smoke,” she added.