Anti-smoking groups want government to control sale of electronic cigarettes

ALARMED by the rising use of electronic cigarettes in the local market, anti-smoking groups want authorities to control the sale of the product as it leads to health hazards.

The People’s Health Foundation (PHF) and its partner organisations held a meeting last December and are planning to submit their findings to the relevant ministries to take action on the sale of the product.

“We are trying to inform about the health risk of electronic cigarette like tobacco usage. It sales should be under controlled and consumers must be aware of the risk. But, the electronic cigarette is not under the control of current tobacco law,” said Dr Than Sein, PHF’s president.

Among the suggestions that are likely to be forwarded to the government are electronic cigarettes should not be sold to anyone under the age of 21 and the government should control imports of this product, according to PHF.

“We expect our proposals on electronic cigarettes to be submitted to the ministries in February,” he said.

Dr Than Sein added: “There is no specific data of those using e-cigarette in the county but we find more people are using than the past. Vaping is become popular among young people”.

A spokeperson for the Non-Communicable Disease unit in the Department of Public Health said “electronic cigarettes are harmful to public health as they contain chemical ingredients like nicotine”.

Vape is used to stop smoking but some people are misusing it, said Dr Aung Thaw, a former medical superintendent of drug dependency treatment hospital.

“Although electronic cigarette or vape does not contain tobacco, its liquid contains chemical ingredients and can be harmful to health. It could also become an addiction and should be kept away from young people,” he added.

Thandar Mon, 24, said “I don’t like the smell of smoke or vape and it annoys me when people smoke cigarette or vape at public places”.

E-juice (vaping liquid) offers different flavors such as menthol, chocolate, fruit and jelly.

“I like vaping and its smell. I used it since last year to stop smoking. I think it is not serious as smoking tobacco because it does not contain tobacco,” said U Myint Thu, 29.

According to a 2014 survey of Myanmar, about 43.8 percent of men and 8.4pc of women are smokers, while 62.2pc of men and 16pc of women are tobacco users.

In addition, to control smoking in public, PHF plans to come out with tobacco-free areas in regions and university campuses by working with government and partner organisations.

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