On the way to a tobacco- and nicotine-free Switzerland
The Swiss Association for Tobacco Control is the center of competence for tobacco prevention in Switzerland. As an umbrella organization for the promotion of non-smoking, it today comprises over 50 organizational members. AT Switzerland offers its members a broad network of experts and provides expertise on tobacco control and prevention. With evidence-based offers and the networking of the central actors, it is committed to a sustainably healthy and smoke-free Switzerland and at the same time offers the population a hand in quitting smoking and nicotine withdrawal.
An important field of action is the denormalization of the consumption of tobacco and nicotine products. This is because a large part of the population still regards the consumption of lethal tobacco and nicotine products as "normal". Furthermore, the protection of young people is at the center of its work and AT Switzerland would like to encourage smokers on their way to quitting smoking. Finally, AT Switzerland is very concerned to strengthen the protection of the population from passive smoke.
A Risky Business: German Cancer Research Center and American Heart Association warn about the health impact of e-cigarettes
A recent report from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) entitled "Risks of E-Cigarettes and Heated Tobacco Products" strongly advises against the use of E-Zigarettes for health reasons and sheds light on the potential dangers of using these products.
Image: Cover page picture of the DKFZ report
The Illusion of Safety
E-cigarettes and heated tobacco products have often been marketed as safer alternatives to traditional cigarettes. But the DKFZ highlights that the principle of harm reduction is problematic with tobacco use. It warns that these products can attract new users and reduce the motivation to quit tobacco altogether.
In July 2023, the American Heart Association (AHA) similarly released a statement warning about the possible health risks of e-cigarettes, particularly among youth, and calling for more research into the long-term effects.
A Potential Threat to Health
A variety of unknown factors in e-cigarettes, such as additives, flavorings, and nicotine dose, create uncertainty about their effect on heart health. E-cigarettes have shown effects on vascular stiffness and blood pressure. However, the absence of comprehensive regulation means that e-cigarettes have not undergone rigorous safety studies.
The Environmental Impact
The DKFZ report also outlines the potential environmental risks posed by e-cigarettes. Their production requires substantial energy and resources, and the disposal of used products can negatively impact the environment.
Dual Use: A Dangerous Trend
Some smokers are combining e-cigarettes with traditional cigarettes in a "dual use pattern". This approach has been strongly criticized by medical experts due to increased risks of heart disease and other health issues.
Questionable Ingredients and Long-term Effects
Recent studies have uncovered potential health risks related to the contents of e-cigarettes. The heating process can lead to the formation of new, toxic compounds, and the use of heated tobacco products may increase the risk of respiratory disorders. Additionally, chemicals found in e-cigarette liquids have been linked to severe lung disease.
Conclusion: A Call for Caution
While e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products might seem like an appealing choice for smokers looking to reduce harm, evidence increasingly suggests that they carry their own set of risks. The best course of action, as noted by the DKFZ report and the AHA statement, is to avoid these products and focus on quitting smoking altogether to evade the harmful effects of tobacco.
The growing concern over these products highlights the urgent need for more research, strict regulations, and public awareness. Consumers must be informed of the risks of long-term dependence and potential health dangers.