THE motion put forward by senators to ban or highly regulate e-cigarettes could undo years of progress in smoking cessation.
The Campaign for Safer Alternatives (CASA) warns that such legislation would not only send former smokers back to their old habits but also deny current smokers a proven way to quit.
Leading international scientists have repeatedly found e-cigarettes to be the most effective tool for helping smokers quit. Last week, a major new analysis by Cochrane of over 150,000 smokers found that people who used e-cigarettes were up to three times as likely to quit than those who didn’t use a smoking cessation tool.
“E-cigarette bans are not just misguided; they are deadly. E-cigarettes provide smokers with a way out of tobacco smoking – cutting off this lifeline will have dangerous repercussions for public health” said Joseph Magero, Chairman of the Campaign for Safer Alternatives (CASA).
“The death toll in Kenya from smoking stands at 8,000 lives per year. We need to be doing everything in our power to support smokers to quit, not blocking their path with misguided bans. That includes ensuring access to proven quit aids like e-cigarettes.
CASA also expressed concern about the conflation of e-cigarettes with tobacco products, highlighting that e-cigarettes do not contain tobacco and therefore don’t expose people to at least 15 types of cancer caused by smoking.
“This proposal doesn’t just lack nuance; it is downright dangerous in its misunderstanding of vaping. E-cigarettes contain zero tobacco and help smokers to quit cigarettes. Treating them the same as tobacco products makes no sense and will put smokers’ lives at risk.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), nicotine itself does not cause cancer, nor is it responsible for cardiovascular disease and many of the respiratory conditions caused by burning tobacco.
Magero also highlights another alarming potential outcome—a surge in the black market. “Banning e-cigarettes outright will simply drive people to unregulated and potentially dangerous alternatives. History shows that prohibition does not work. “
An outright ban on e-cigarettes would make Kenya an outlier in global best practices when it comes to reducing smoking rates through embracing new technologies. Sweden for example is set to become the first developed country to achieve smoke-free status later this year thanks to its use of smoke-free nicotine products, while in the UK, the National Health Service is actively advising smokers to use e-cigarettes as a quit tool.
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