PETALING JAYA: E-cigs and vape (ECV) are being promoted as weight management aids.
Besides e-liquids that claim to have zero calories, there is a new device touted to be an appetite suppressant to reduce snack or carbo cravings, National E-cigarette Survey (NECS) 2016 principal investigator Assoc Prof Dr Mohamad Haniki Nik Mohamed said.
“The device is promoted as an inhalation weight management aid.
“Such products are clearly targeting women and young girls,” he said.
A Google search by Sunday Star showed online stores promoting ECV with fruit, green tea, and plant extracts, purportedly containing vitamin and weight control properties. Universiti Malaya’s Nicotine Addiction Research & Collaboration Group (NARCC) member Dr Nur Amani@Natasha Ahmad Tajuddin said the amount of these “supposedly beneficial” extracts were too little to be of use.
“What’s the percentage of green tea extract in the liquid?
“How much green tea does your body need for it to have an impact?
“These liquids contain more harmful chemicals than anything,” she said, adding that ECV and nicotine kill the taste buds and suppress appetite but there is no proof that its safe.
“Choose a healthy lifestyle and eating habits instead of ECV.
“Don’t be influenced by cheap marketing strategies that target turning adolescents and young adults into new tobacco smokers.”
University of Cambridge behaviour and health research unit director Prof Dame Theresa Marteau said some flavours and marketing strategies are aimed at those with weight issues.
“Why else would you say a flavour has zero calories?
“If someone’s smoking because of weight concerns, and they want to stop, they’d be better off vaping.
“If vaping is attracting them, because it’s highlighting the fact that you can smoke chocolate rather than eat chocolate, that may not be a bad thing although I wouldn’t recommend it,” she said.
Vapers are claiming that ECV help control weight gain after they stopped smoking, according to an article in the Nicotine & Tobacco Research Journal last year.
Nicotine and mechanisms like taste perception, physical mouthfeel, and sensation and behavioural replacement could facilitate weight control, the article Could Vaping be a New Weapon in the Battle of the Bulge?, read.
Smoking in England, a national data portal, is looking at whether people are perceiving vaping as a weight control strategy, said Paul Aveyard, professor of behavioural medicine at the University of Oxford.
It’s unlikely that weight control will be a driver of e-cig take up unless you have an eating disorder, he said.
“People with eating disorders will scour the Internet for information on how to not eat.
“That’s where you might come across vaping as a weight control strategy or appetite suppressant.
“But I’d never recommend e-cigs if they’ve never smoked. It’d never work,” he said, adding that as soon as they stop using the device, they will regain the weight. “Telling a non-smoker to pick up an e-cig for weight control is committing that person to a lifetime of vaping when the long-term harm is unknown. It’s not worth losing a few kilos for.”
Dr Mohamad Haniki warned the public against using e-cigs or nicotine to lose weight.
“Don’t follow trends. We don’t know the long term harm and you could end up becoming a nicotine addict instead of losing weight.
“If you’re overweight or obese, eat less and exercise more. Consult healthcare professionals to know the safe and right way to reduce weight.”
Like every smoking product, the latest ECV target women and adolescents with their chic, and colourful designs, and flavours, he said.
Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) education officer N.V. Subbarow is worried about young girls turning to ECV to lose weight because of what they see online.
He is calling for an immediate ban.
“We’ve been dragging our feet for way too long.
“We failed to react fast enough to tobacco and drug use among adolescents.
“We cannot make the same mistake with ECV.”