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The Silent Dangers of E-Cigarettes

The use of e-cigarettes is still under debate as Thailand discovers the first patient struck by pneumonia,, possibly  from the use of electronic cigarettes with marijuana concentrate.

Associate Professor Dr. Jintana Yunibhand, Director of Thailand National Hotline and Professor at the Faculty of Nursing, Chulalongkorn University, shares her opinion that e-cigarettes are an innovation from companies to make profit by creating a device that is smoke-free and perceived to be less damaging to one’s health.

“There are a lot of controversy around the use of e-cigarettes. Some people are convinced that since there are no smoke, it should be less harmful. In reality, e-cigarette users are exposed to lung disease from inhaling dangerous chemicals through the vaping device. When users stop smoking, their symptoms get better”, says Associate Professor Dr. Jintana Yunibhand.

Vapor

The news report states that the vapor  from the e-cigarettes are made up of dust particles smaller than PM 2.5 and contains toxic metal nanoparticles, such as formaldehyde, diacetyl, and acrolein, which are harmful to the body. Despite the dangers, the general public is  still unaware and ill-informed about the effects of each day first-hand and second-hand smoking. E-cigarette continues to attract teen and young adults due to its modern look, ease of use, variety of flavor offerings and the flexibility to adjust the level of nicotine concentration..

“As of today, we are still the victim of the tobacco industry. Researchers have been bought out to manipulate evidence claiming that electronic cigarettes are less harmful compared to conventional cigarettes. If people continue to believe that this is the truth, then the silent dangers of e-cigarettes will continue”, Associate Professor Dr. Jintana Yunibhand expresses.

The ideal solution would be to encourage smokers to quit smoking, which is easier said than done. Thus, it is the intention of Thailand’s National Hotline to provide moral and emotional support, and consultation to help Thai people successfully quit smoking. The organization has been running for over 10 years, supported by the Thai Health Promotion Foundation together with the Ministry of Public Health, the National Health Security Office, and the World Health Organization. The hotline is free of charge and can be reached at 1600.

“Research shows that there are two ways to treat cigarette addiction. The first is to rely on prescription medication that can reduce cravings for tobacco. Thailand is currently pushing for this medication to be enlisted in the National Drug List as it is hard to access. Apart from patients, tobacco addicts that do not have any visible symptoms will have to pay a good sum for these prescriptions. The second option is self-control through behavior therapy. Meanwhile, other treatment methods are still in development.”

The Thailand National Hotline understands that quitting tobacco is hard. It takes dedication, confidence, and encouragement. “The hotline is there to help you from the start. First, by asking if you are ready to give up smoking, followed by a short consultation session for motivation before getting into  the harder steps in detail.”

The in-depth consultation takes around 10 – 20 minutes over the phone. The expert support team will help analyze the level of addiction, smoking behavior, your environment, and if you’ve had any experience in trying to quit in the past. The most important thing is to give words of encouragement and support the addicts to discover new ways to help them fight off cravings. The consultations are personalized as what works for one person may not work for another.

“For follow-up sessions, the expert support team will call back the smokers at least 6 more times within the span of a year. The first follow-up call is within a week, then followed by a second call to see if the smoker is experiencing any withdrawals as this period is usually the toughest. After that, the calls will be made periodically to check-in on the smoker’s progress.”

“Cigarettes and  other tobacco products are the tobacco company’s way to get people hooked and make profit. The knowledge of the dangers of these products are still minimal. More importantly, the use and attainment of e-cigarettes are illegal. We can help encourage smokers to quit cigarettes and e-cigarettes with our moral support and encouragement”, Associate Professor Dr. Jintana Yunibhand notes.

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The sense of kinship and warmth found in the Chula community is priceless and a treasure worth keeping.

Prof. Dr. Pornanong Aramwit Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Chulalongkorn University

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