Nicotaine based disposable inhale and exhale e-vapour does cause environmental impacts

The 10th edition of the Global Forum on Nicotine (GFN23) currently being held in Warsaw, Poland considers that vaping — the disposable inhale and exhale vapour containing nicotine — does impact environment. 

During a session on reducing the environmental impacts in tobacco harm reduction, it was observed that “there are reasonable and justified concerns about the environmental impact of vaping”.

However, Australian physician and academic, Dr. Colin Mendelsohn argued that these concerns are being used to further justify opposition towards Tobacco harm Reduction.

Dr. Colin Mendelsohn

Cigarette manufacturers are coming up with many scientific innovations that are in line with reducing tobacco harm as part of the strategies towards reducing health risks associated with nicotine use.

During a panel discussion at the GFN23, director of Bay Pharma, David Burns echoed disposable vapes do cause environmental harm , saying landfill fires have occurred in Australia when compactors have crushed unstable lithium ion batteries which have ignited. 

While Pieter Vorster, managing director of Idwala Research, suggested that so far, “the safer nicotine product industry has focused on making the best possible product for the consumer. Now, issues of sustainability have to be addressed, such as lithium as a finite resource”.

The panel also considered that the environmental impact of vaping and safer nicotine products must be considered in comparison to the far greater impact of smoking, from land use to cigarette waste. 

During the session of medicinal licensing of vaping products and the potential implications for public health, International Fellow of the Taxpayers Protection Alliance, Martin Cullip said he is a vaping consumer and when he was a smoker, he wasn’t ill, and he didn’t need treatment. 

“Prescription vapes are a good idea, but I know consumers have a lot of reservations about them,” he said. “There is this mistrust that once you get prescription vapes, the push will be towards getting rid of the consumer market entirely and having just the prescription route. I know this is something consumers are very, very worried about.”

He further said the prescription model doesn’t deal with the fact that many vapers (who are former smokers including himself) were ‘accidental quitters’. 

“I never made a single quit attempt in my life. I tried a vaping product to see what it was like, and I then just forgot to smoke over a number of years. 

“Some smokers wouldn’t consider prescription vapes [as a smoking cessation tool] and if we did end up with no consumer market, then people like me wouldn’t have quit.”

Mark Dickinson, who owns Clarityse Ltd — an independent strategic marketing consultancy with experience across the over-the-counter medicines and vaping sectors, said: “Why have prescription vapes?” 

“It comes down to choice and variety. I think there are smokers out there who would access this market, and the perceptions of the quality, efficacy and science behind a medical endorsement [for prescription vapes] will give them more confidence. 

“For those who are open to medical support, there’s a significant number of them who will be interested in prescription vapes, so I think there is a market for it.

“I think the people who are nervous about this, are nervous because they see the whole market being driven into the medicinal end, and the death of the consumer segment. If I believed that was the case, I would switch my view entirely, but I don’t think that will happen, at least not in the UK.

“Whilst 10 years ago the public health community were advocating for a prescription model [for vaping], I think they’ve changed their view entirely and I think that they would acknowledge that it would be a disaster from a public health point of view if the whole market shifted [to prescription vapes]. 

“It would destroy the whole market and what’s gone on in Australia is evidence to demonstrate that that’s just a disastrous policy,” Dickinson said.

A contribution from Jasjit Ahluwalia, a physician and public health scientist at Brown University in the US, said: “The biggest thing about the prescription model is the word choice. There should be a whole gamut of choices out there, whatever is available that reduces the harm of the most deadly product on earth which is the combustible cigarette.

“With regards to the role of physicians, they are ridiculously busy. They like to give people medications and solve problems through medications. Right now, published research shows that 85% of US-based physicians think that nicotine causes cancer which is unbelievable. 

“Nicotine does not cause cancer. Also, a very large number of them, 65% to 70%, think e-cigarettes are as dangerous or more dangerous than cigarettes. There is no way that they are as or more dangerous than combustible cigarettes. 

“Physicians are currently very anti-vaping in the US, but if something was medically licensed, all of a sudden, they would buy into it.

“I was a late adopter to e-cigarettes. I didn’t buy into them at first, but I converted over the last couple of years, and I think it’s the biggest game changer I’ve seen in my 30 years of doing work in smoking. 

“We still say in the United States that 480,000 Americans die of tobacco every year. That’s exactly what I said in 1992. It’s a tragedy.” 

All life is sacred and needs to be protected, thus when there is a pandemic such as the recent outbreak of CoVID-19 along with other emergencies such as HIV/Aids, Malaria, Ebola, Cholera etc., the world joins hands to combat them with full force. 

Globally, over 8 million people who smoke die from smoke-related illness every year. This must be regarded as a global concern — a pandemic like issue that needs to be addressed — especially for the African continent which is lagging behind in as far as the calls for African scientists and experts is concerned — for the adoption of tobacco and substance harm reduction public health strategies and tobacco control.

During a panel discussion at the second Harm Reduction Exchange conference for African journalists held in Nairobi, Kenya on December 1, 2022, it was observed that there are many scientific innovations that cigarette manufacturers are coming up with that are in line with reducing tobacco harm, but they are yet to infiltrate the African market. 

One of the biggest buyers of Malawi tobacco, Phillip Morris International (PMI) has invented the IQOS — a smoke-free innovation that continues to attest that the modified risk tobacco product is less harmful than tobacco cigarettes.

Over the past seven years since its invention, numerous studies have been conducted. 43 global independent labs have confirmed that the IQOS has a minimal effect on biological processes in people compared to conventional smoking. 

The novel risk-reduced product is designed to assist people who smoke and who want to stop the habit but are failing to do so – mainly due to strong withdrawal effects – by offering them an alternative for their nicotine cravings. 

Several versions of the IQOS have been made but they are mainly accessible in the developed western countries with South Africa — closest to Malawi — having them available on the market albeit at an expensive price point.

Other African countries’ leadership have altogether banned such harm reduction gadgets, as they still produce some smoke-like vapour, although such vapour is not as harmful as smoke from tobacco cigarettes.

In his presentation — entitled ‘Harm Reduction: Making a difference in Africa’ — Professor Abdoul Kasse from Senegal, one of Africa’s fiercest medical professionals who advocates for harm reduction strategy adoption, attested that harm from tobacco cigarettes is not from nicotine but from the tar. 

He said: “There are misconceptions that people who smoke eventually suffer from various ailments, including lung cancer due to the intake of nicotine but stressed that it is not the nicotine but the carcinogens from the burning process and the tar that cause illness, which are not found in safe nicotine products such as PMI’s IQOS.”  

Prof. Kassé — who is a world renowned and awarded oncologist and a Professor of surgery at the Cancer Institute in Senegal — emphasized that 30% of people who eventually suffer from cancer are associated with combustible tobacco cigarettes whose smoke also affects non-smokers — something which the IQOS and other safer nicotine products do not.

“Nicotine does not cause cancer but the tar does,” he emphasized. “People who smoke crave for the nicotine, which is very addictive as is caffein that is also found in coffee and other disease medicines. 

“However, addictive substances in coffee and various medicines are consumed by one individual and do not affect those surrounding them, while smoke from tobacco cigarettes is affects those who do not smoke.”

Prof. Kassé said this is where there was need to press for harm reduction to protect those who do not smoke as well as assisting people to quit the habit by using safer nicotine products. He said that “Harm Reduction is a powerful public health tool that has the potential to reduce cancer by 30% and should be at the centre of all public health development strategies”.

“Harm reduction has already benefited many people in public health and is the most viable alternative in tobacco control. It applies to areas where there is a need to reduce the harm associated with a practice or consumption of a substance that is overused in society leading to increased morbidity and mortality.

“Innovative Harm Reduction initiatives will help to keep more Africans alive. Tobacco Harm Reduction initiatives, including the use of popular e-cigarettes, nicotine patches and chewing gums have continued to generate a lot of misunderstanding in both the public health community and in the media.”

“However, there is evidence that the use of potentially less harmful alternatives than cigarettes for those who are not willing or cannot give up smoking with currently approved methods may be a solution, not necessarily the best for everyone but by far better than continuous smoking.

“Where cessation repeatedly fails, switching to less harmful products is expected to result in benefits for many smokers,” said the Professor.

Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :

Sharing is caring!

Follow us in Twitter
Read previous post:
Chakwera says Africa, China have not utilized partnership to full potential

Malawi President Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera has lamented failure by Africa and China to utilize their partnership to the full...