Clear your doubts about e-cigarettes

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The National Consumer Secretariat, linked to the Ministry of Justice, ordered 33 companies to suspend the sale of electronic cigarettes. The decision, published in the Official Gazette this Thursday (1st), determines that establishments stop selling the product within 48 hours, under penalty of a fine of R$ 5,000 per day.

The publication reignited the debate on the banning of electronic cigarettes, whose marketing, importation and advertising are not allowed in Brazil. Learn more about these devices and the controversies surrounding the discussion about their use:

How do electronic cigarettes work?

Electronic cigarettes, also called e-cigarette, vapes, e-pipe, e-ciggy, and heated tobacco, work in almost the same way as traditional cigarettes. The difference is that instead of burning by combustion, they work by vaporization. That’s because they contain a liquid that is heated and generates the vapor sucked in by the user.

They emerged in 2003 in China. After losing his father to lung cancer, pharmacist Hon Lik created the device looking for a way to stop smoking.

Are e-cigarettes less toxic than regular cigarettes?

According to some 50 medical entities defended in May, no. Contrary to what many believe, electronic cigarettes have nicotine in their composition, which is largely responsible for the development of addiction. In addition, they cause the same inflammatory process in the respiratory and cardiac system as conventional cigarettes, which lead to hypertension, atherosclerosis, heart attack and death. Only much faster.

The cause behind these developments lies in the other toxic components present in the vape liquid. “In addition to nicotine, it is composed of ultrafine particles of heavy metals, high concentration of nickel, aromatic elements, glycerol and other additives. This interaction even forms new unknown substances”, says cardiologist Jaqueline Scholz, scientific advisor at Socesp ( Society of Cardiology of the State of São Paulo).

Do e-cigarettes help fight addiction?

“Electronic cigarettes were born with the promise of simulating nicotine dependence in a lighter and, theoretically, less toxic way for people to be able to leave the addiction. But in practice this did not happen”, says oncologist Igor Morbeck, member of the Scientific Committee of the Side by Side for Life Institute.

According to cardiologist Jaqueline Scholz, initially the load of the substance provided by these devices was actually lower. “But the current ones, belonging to the third and fourth generation, are more powerful. People even manage to exchange the conventional for the electronic one, but they don’t stop smoking”, warns the expert.

What is Anvisa’s position?

Due to these problems, Anvisa (National Health Surveillance Agency) banned the commercialization, import and advertising of electronic cigarettes in Brazil in 2009. The agency even opened discussion for a possible update of the resolution ten years later, but the collegiate board, which met in July this year, decided to keep the ban.

What do the manufacturers argue?

They defend the regulation of these products, with the definition of sanitary, safety and quality rules, so that consumers are not exposed to smuggled products without manufacturing control. They say that the ban in Brazil goes against what is happening in the world and contributes to the growth of smuggling and illegal trade in the face of the high demand of adult smokers for these devices.

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