Prolepsis Institute about the World No Tobacco Day and the use of e-cigarettes among young people

May 31, 2019

31st of May 2019 – On the occasion of World No Tobacco Day Prolepsis Institute emphasizes the damaging effects of smoking on public health and highlights the need for preventive measures concerning the use of e-cigarettes among young people.

According to the World Health Organization, smoking constitutes one of the biggest threats to public health humanity has ever faced, since about 7 million people die each year from tobacco related diseases. Smoking is associated with many forms of cancer (cancer of the lung, larynx, mouth and bladder), while the damaging effects of smoking are related to serious cardiovascular diseases (heart attack, angina, stroke etc.), and respiratory diseases (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema, bronchitis).

Big tobacco industries are putting profits over people, targeting particularly vulnerable populations in developing countries of Africa, Asia and the Middle East, usually taking advantage of the more relaxed anti-smoking legislation. On a global scale, 1.1 billion people smoke daily, of whom 80% live in countries with low and average income per capita. In the western world the tobacco industry balances out damages caused (by advertising bans, stronger anti-tobacco legislation more informed citizens) with the commercial promotion of the e-cigarette and heated tobacco products, targeting especially younger age groups. The widespread use of new tobacco products has created challenges for public health.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the use of e-cigarettes by young people and adolescents constitutes nowadays an important problem for public health. According to a CDC study, the percentage of adolescents using e-cigarettes has risen to an alarming level in the last years. 3.6 million middle and high school students in the USA used e-cigarettes in 2018, while the respective number in 2011 was 280.000 students.

There is scientific proof that regular cigarettes as well as e-cigarettes, but also heated tobacco products constitute a threat to public health. Especially among youths – who use e-cigarettes at a higher proportion than adults – complementary evidence shows that it increases the danger of transitioning to smoking regular cigarettes.

Although we don’t know exactly the number of young people in Greece who use new tobacco products, vigilance needs to be exercised concerning their spread among this population. It is necessary to prohibit the sale of tobacco products to under aged children as well as limit the use, commercial promotion and sale among young people by finally implementing the anti-smoking legislation. The continuous non-implementation of the anti-smoking law in Greece constitutes a crime against the life of workers, citizens and mostly, children.

In this hostile environment for public health intensifying awareness and prevention action is of vital importance. Prolepsis Institute will continue to intervene through awareness raising activities in an effort to promote prevention and smoking cessation, targeting students, workers and the general public. 

Sources:

  1. E-Cigarette Use Among Youth and Young Adults: A Report of the Surgeon General, 2016 U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, Public Health Service, Office of the Surgeon General, Rockville, MD
  2. Use of Electronic Cigarettes and Any Tobacco Product Among Middle and High School Students — United States, 2011–2018, November 16, 2018 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC
  3. Public Health Consequences of E-Cigarettes, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, January 23 2018