Alternative cigarette raises concerns

By The nation
Published on June 29, 2009
Alternative cigarette raises concerns


Authorities will have to watch out for nicotine gel, an alternative cigarette that looks set to attract smokers but may be harmful to health.

By just rubbing the gel in one’s hands, one will be able to experience having a cigarette within 30 seconds.

The nicotine gel is touted as a solution to people who feel the urge to smoke in smoking-free places.

“The problem is that there is no research to confirm that this product is really safe,” Thailand Health Promotion Institute president Dr Hatai Chitanondh said yesterday, “This is not a certified quit-smoking product.”

According to him, the nicotine gel is already available at more than 400 retail shops in Malaysia. Despite its ban in Thailand, the product has the potential to find its way to Thai smokers via Internet advertisements.

“So, we need to monitor the product movement closely,” Hatai said, a veteran crusader against smoking.

Hatai said the gel could make people take in too much nicotine before they realise it.

“Possible side-effects are higher blood pressure and faster heartbeat rate,” he pointed out. “Such side-effects could be dangerous in people who have underlying diseases”.

Hatai said he had heard that the nicotine-gel manufacturer had planned to introduce it in Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, South Korea, Hong Kong, China, India, Brunei, Australia, New Zealand and Vietnam.

Thailand has also banned the sale of electronic cigarettes. Made of stainless steel, the e-cigarette has a chamber for storing liquid nicotine in various concentrations and it is powered by a rechargeable battery and resembles a real cigarette. Users puff on it as they would a real cigarette, but they do not light it, and it produces no smoke. Rather, it produces a fine, heated mist, which is absorbed into the lungs.

Companies often market electronic cigarettes as a healthier alternative to tobacco smoking.

However, the World Health Organisation last year issued a release warning it does not consider the electronic cigarette to be a legitimate smoking cessation aid.

WHO said it had no scientific evidence to confirm the product’s safety and efficacy.

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