Vape hype rouses concern about health risks, setback of tobacco control

Updated: Oct 23, 2019 Xinhua Print
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BEIJING -- Tobacco control activists and experts in China have voiced concern about e-cigarette advertisement and called for stricter industry regulation, the China Youth Daily reported Tuesday.

"Advertisement for e-cigarettes, seizing the market chances to replace real cigarettes, will only make it harder for people to abandon the unhealthy lifestyle," Zhang Jianshu, president of the Beijing Association on Tobacco Control, told the newspaper.

Zhang suggested that the public should refuse vaping in the same way as traditional smoking.

An unproven hypothesis of vaping being safer than traditional smoking or exaggeration about its role in helping smokers quit have been commonly used in e-cigarette marketing, the newspaper reported, citing a report about the e-cigarette industry released earlier this year by Tsinghua University.

Among marketing rhetoric by online retailers, 95 percent associated vaping with a healthy and clean way of smoking, and 89 percent of online vendors marketed e-cigarettes based on its "health benefits," according to the report.

Citing a survey of 3,587 consumers from multiple countries, the report showed that 84 percent had the idea that vaping is safer than smoking cigarettes and 77 percent thought it could help people quit smoking.

According to the Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic 2019 by the World Health Organization (WHO), there was no adequate evidence to quantitatively assess the health impacts of e-cigarettes or support that vaping will help people quit smoking.

Researchers and regulators may not be able to keep up with the evolution of e-cigarettes, which contain complex chemical ingredients and adopt new tastes, said Zheng Rong, professor with the School of International Trade and Economics, University of International Business and Economics.

"Once thing to be sure of is that they are addictive in a certain degree," Zheng said.

The WHO also noted that more and more evidence showed that young people who vape are more likely to smoke cigarettes in the future.

Echoing Zhang's view, Liu Shuangzhou, a professor with the Central University of Finance and Economics, advocated stricter regulations on vape advertisements, on the grounds that marketing e-cigarettes inevitably brings back cigarettes in public spaces and compromises the effect of the cigarette advertisement ban.

The purpose of banning cigarette advertisements is that through reducing cigarettes' public presence it will prevent people, especially the youth, from becoming a smoker rather than prompt smokers to quit, Liu said.



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