Medical experts have warned Nigerians against considering heated tobacco products as better alternatives to tobacco smoking.
The experts say HTPs produce an emission containing nicotine and other unhealthy chemicals, which are inhaled by users.
According to the experts, the use of any tobacco product, including HTPs, is harmful, noting that they are particularly harmful to pregnant women, young adults, and those who do not even use tobacco products.
Speaking with PUNCH HealthWise, a Professor of Public Health, Tanimola Akande, said taking heated tobacco products has serious negative health effects.
“The e-cigarette aerosol that users breathe from the device and exhale can contain harmful and potentially harmful substances, including nicotine. Ultrafine particles can be inhaled deep into the lungs. It also has flavourings, such as diacetyl, a chemical linked to serious lung disease.
He added that HTPs can also be another form of addiction, adding that those taking them as alternatives to smoking tobacco may also unwittingly become addicted to them.
He further advised Nigerians seeking to quit smoking to get help from experts who will guide them through the process, especially as it relates to lifestyle changes
“There are lifestyle changes that can help people to quit smoking, though they are not too easy. There are experts, too, that can help those who desire to quit smoking,” Akande said.
Also, a Professor of Medicine at the University of Ilorin, Emmanuel Okoro, noted that smokeless tobacco contains very harmful compounds.
“Don’t be deceived, smokeless tobacco contains very harmful compounds and has been linked to serious health issues, like cancers and birth defects.
“In any case, it is also addictive. That’s why its use is highly regulated in countries where citizens’ health is a priority and consumer protection effective,” Okoro said.
According to the World Health Organisation HTPs are a re-emerging class of tobacco products marketed as so-called potentially reduced-exposure products, or even as modified-risk tobacco products.
The world health body noted that there is insufficient evidence to conclude that HTPs are less harmful than conventional cigarettes.
“In fact, there are concerns that while they may expose users to lower levels of some toxicants than conventional cigarettes, they also expose users to higher levels of other toxicants. It is not clear how this toxicological profile translates into short- and long-term health effects,” it noted.
It said that governments should introduce a system for the pre-market assessment of novel tobacco products, including HTPs, adding that marketing of HTPs should not be permitted unless there is conclusive evidence that, compared to conventional cigarettes, the products reduce exposure to harmful and potentially harmful components and reduce health risks.
“Governments that cannot prevent the introduction of HTPs in their markets or decide to allow the marketing of HTPs in the absence of such evidence should ensure the tobacco industry cannot claim government authorisation of the product as its endorsement,” it said.
WHO said HTPs should be taxed similarly to other tobacco products, following the recommendations of the Conference of the Parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
WHO recognises HTPs as tobacco products and therefore considers them to be subject to the provisions of the WHO FCTC.
SOURCE: THE PUNCH