Latin American & Caribbean doctors reaffirm that vapes are much less harmful than conventional cigarettes

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Latin American & Caribbean doctors reaffirm that vapes are much less harmful than conventional cigarettes

A report presented by doctors from several Latin American and Caribbean countries reaffirms that “electronic cigarettes or vapes are undoubtedly much less dangerous than conventional cigarettes.” It also notes these are a lower risk alternative for adult smokers.

This report was submitted by the Latin American Network for the Reduction of Harm Associated with Smoking (RELDAT), an organization that brings together medical professionals from Mexico, Argentina, Ecuador, Brazil, Chile, Dominican Republic, among other countries, and which promotes the successful application of policies to reduce the harm associated with tobacco consumption.

“In electronic cigarettes we find a much less harmful product, despite not being completely harmless, which can serve to supply that nicotine on which the smoker is dependent, but in a less harmful way, since the aerosol they generate (colloquially called “vapor”) does not contain about 98-99 per cent of the compounds detected in tobacco smoke,” said Dr. Hugo Caballero (Colombia), Internist, pulmonologist, interventional pulmonologist, director of the Pneumology Service of the Marly Clinic. “There is a mistaken perception, often encouraged by ill-informed campaigns, that point out the toxicity of these products only because of their nicotine content.

Science has already rigorously demonstrated, and on several occasions, that nicotine is not the main cause of cancer or other smoking-related diseases. The more progress is made in the regulation of these products, the more technological development will be able to introduce new products whose risk profile is even lower than the current ones,” Caballero pointed out.

The report further explains that tobacco smoke, the result of combustion, contains about 7,000 detected compounds belonging to various chemical groups. This chemical complexity includes hundreds of known toxicants, including carbon monoxide, as well as 70 identified carcinogenic compounds.

“Tobacco smoke presents a complicated cocktail of toxicity. In contrast, the aerosol generated by the e-cigarette is of substantially less complexity and toxicity, as it is generated by condensation of the vapor produced by heating a liquid mixture (consisting of propylene glycol, glycerol, nicotine, water, and flavorings) to temperatures much lower than combustion (180-270 °C). E-cigarette aerosol particles are liquid droplets whose chemical composition is of very low toxicity,” said Roberto Sussman PHD (Mexico), senior researcher at the Institute of Nuclear Sciences, National Autonomous University of Mexico.

An alternative for smokers.
The Reldat report also addressed the role of e-cigarettes for adults who will continue to smoke. The doctors emphasized that every smoker should quit smoking completely and to do so, use available methods, including pharmaceuticals, nicotine replacement therapy and psychological support.

“Unfortunately, the healthcare systems in most Latin American countries do not offer these alternatives for smokers and this at some point must change. However, while this is happening, even when they are available, it has been possible for some time to leverage the smoker’s desire for cessation with the use of electronic devices (cigarettes) with nicotine delivery, which are currently known as harm reduction strategies,” said Dr. Enrique Terán. MD. PHD (Ecuador), senior lecturer at the College of Health Sciences at the Universidad San Francisco de Quito.

Reldat points out that smoking rates in countries that opt for products with a reduced risk potential experience a trend towards smoking cessation and that those countries that have opted for products with a different risk profile to cigarettes have been successful thanks to the involvement of the authorities, combined with comprehensive anti-smoking plans and support for harm reduction products.

The doctors who are the authors of the report recommended that specialists and health associations that have the responsibility of directing public health policies on smoking should get out “of the comfortable position of not questioning the status quo and inform themselves and make decisions based on scientific evidence, always for the benefit of the patient, in this case the smoker.”