KUWAIT: Electronic cigarettes were used as a rather safe substitute to regular cigarettes – however, their danger rose to the surface with the US announcing six e-cigarette-related deaths recently. An e-cigarette is a handheld battery-powered vaporizer that simulates smoking through providing some of the behavioral aspects of smoking, without burning tobacco. Controversy over the safety of these vapes is still going on, as it is believed they have similar effects as regular cigarettes when used for a long term. These include cancer and heart attacks.

Abdulhameed Al-Belali, Anwar Burahma and Adel Mulla Hussein

There is a concern in Kuwait over the growing numbers of people using e-cigarettes, especially teenagers. Although they are prohibited by the ministry of health, they are still illegally sold on social media and in stores. According to researchers, e-cigarettes are relatively new to the market and need further thorough studies to fully determine their dangers. They had found that long-term use could harm immunity cells in the body.

In separate statements to KUNA yesterday, a number of addiction specialists and anti-smoking centers agreed that e-cigarettes cannot be considered as a safe alternative to smoking. Chairman of Bashayer Al-Khair Society Abdulhameed Al-Belali affirmed that e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is found in tobacco and causes addiction. He added that most people who get into drug addiction start by smoking tobacco. The aim behind inventing e-cigarettes was to avoid the deadly effects of cigarettes – however, companies started adding nicotine to attract more smokers, he noted.

Secretary General of the Gulf Anti-Smoking Committee Anwar Burahma noted that e-cigarettes appeared in 2004 and became popular in 2007.Claiming that these vapes are safe and can help a person quit smoking is untrue, he stressed. Smoking these for a long time causes addiction, while there is also a possibility that they could explode. In this matter, he mentioned recorded cases where e-cigarettes exploded and caused serious burns in the US. He called on the Cabinet, National Assembly and ministry of health to take serious measures to prevent people, especially youth, from using these cigarettes.

In the same context, head of Kuwait’s national anti-smoking program Adel Mulla Hussein said that smokers of e-cigarettes often fail to quit smoking. He added that similar to regular cigarettes, electronic ones can affect arteries and cause strokes. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently issued a warning to a top e-cigarettes manufacturing company, demanding it to stop advertising its products as a “safe alternative to regular smoking”. – KUNA