In bid to meet set goals on a smoke free continent by the year 2025, stakeholders in the tobacco industry are advocating for the use of the Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS).
According to the World Health Organisation, ENDS, also called e-cigarettes, are devices that vaporise liquid, typically comprising nicotine, propylene glycol, glycerine and flavourings.
According to Dr Tendai Kadea Mhizha, a permanent member of the the Gordon Institute of Business Science University of Pretoria, switching from smoking tobacco cigarettes to using e-cigarettes may reduce user harm, by supporting quitting or acting as a lower risk substitute.
“E-cigars can dramatically reduce risks to health likely by 95 percent among those who can switch negligible impact on by standers, at a lower cost and with lower social stigma,” she said.
Dr Tendai argues that the ban on low risk nicotine products is not scientific.
But according to the Centre for Disease Control, while ENDS emit lower levels of dangerous toxins than combusted cigarettes, they can contain heavy metals, ultrafine particulate, and cancer-causing agents like acrolein.11 and are not approved by the Food and Drug Authority
Dr Tendai was speaking at a conference in Naivasha, Kenya under theme; “Tobacco Harm Reduction: Towards a smoke free world.”
Ade Adeyemi, the president leadership impact dynamics also adds that these technologies could be the possible solution for Africa where smoking trends have greatly shifted to the Youth.
“While smoking is reducing in all other continents, it has risen in Africa by 15 percent, this is also expected to rise to about 18 per cent by the year 2025.”
For decades, despite significant tobacco control initiatives, smoking has remained the world’s number one preventable cause of death.
According to Richard Baguma, the Coordinator Uganda Health Communication Alliance, with more than one billion smokers, and one death every six seconds from smoking, there is an urgent need to accelerate progress and end this public health crisis.
“The electronic cigarettes are not the solution, we need to agree that even the ardent smokers can quit, all these people need is rehabilitation, Uganda should be smoke free,” he stressed.
Not fairing any better than its counterparts, about 10 percent of Uganda’s youth have been reported to associate with smoking, raising concerns on the health status of the future generation.
Global Youth Tobacco Survey 2010 further stated that 15 percent of boys and 13 percent of girls in secondary schools start smoking annually.
In Uganda, about 13,500 people die every year due to tobacco related illnesses.
75 percent of all patients with oral cancers reported in Mulago hospital in 2008 had a history of tobacco smoking.
NEMA 1998, reported acute respiratory infections (ARI) as 2nd leading cause of infant visits to health centres as result of exposure to tobacco smoke.
Current Studies at Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI) indicate expenditure of 3 USD on a cancer patient, while Tobacco Industry contributes 1.0 USD, and 75 percent of cancer patients have a history of tobacco interaction.
But while Uganda has a law in place on tobacco control, this has not been implemented with activists blaming this on the influence by the tobacco industry.
The six major tobacco companies not including the Chinese national tobacco corporation, have market value of around 600bn USD.