SINGAPORE: More than seven in 10 youths are unaware that e-cigarettes contain nicotine and cancer-causing chemicals, according to a Health Promotion Board (HPB) survey, which polled 600 youths in 2018.
A campaign was launched on Saturday (Jan 26) to raise awareness on the negative health effects of e-cigarettes, which were banned in 2017.
"There is a worrying global trend on the use of e-cigarettes, especially among youths," said Mr Amrin Amin, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Health, at the campaign's launch.
"We have to ensure that our public and young know the facts, and understand the reasons why we have banned Electronic Nicotine Delivery System, or ENDS, which include e-cigarettes."
Chemical compounds in e-cigarettes include cancer-causing substances such as nicotine, a highly addictive and toxic chemical found in insecticides. They also contain formaldehyde, which is used as embalming fluid, as well as benzene, which is found in car exhaust. Existing evidence shows that these chemicals pose multiple health risks to both users and non-users.
Mr Amrin drew parallels to the tobacco industry's lobbying in the 1960s and 1970s, which made use of research claiming that smoking did not cause diseases. He added that public health authorities remain divided on whether e-cigarettes can help smokers quit.
"The evidence for the use of e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation aid is actually mixed and limited," said Mr Amrin. "It is clear today – conclusive, convincing scientific proof on the harms of cigarettes, linking smoking to various diseases. This is an important lesson. Don't take the so-called experts without studying the evidence. We have to do what's right for our people. It's our public duty and responsibility.”
"We are taking a prudent course in banning ENDS, with public safety and interest firmly on our minds. And if there’s sound evidence we would be glad to review it," he added.
The campaign will run for three months on social media and include workshops at institutes of higher learning.
One 18-year-old student said the campaign could be helpful: "As far as I know, I only know it's nicotine, but now I'm quite surprised there are other things inside also. I think this might help – maybe not to help (smokers stop) but to help them realise it's more than just nicotine."