Tax authorities are strengthening their siege of the e-cigarette trade

published 09/04/2022 06:00

An expert warns that electronic cigarettes and hookahs have a much higher proportion of nicotine than traditional cigarettes – (listening: playback)

Although they have been banned by the National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvia) since 2009, the sale of electronic cigarettes is freely available in the country. At least 33 companies have 48 hours, as soon as they are notified, to stop marketing the product, also known as vape, nationwide. Now, according to the agency’s decision, the offense will result in a daily fine of R$ 5 thousand, according to the decree issued by the Ministry of Justice and Public Security last Thursday.

The decision imposes a more apparent procedure on the inspection bodies of the federal district, states and municipalities. In the federal capital, supervision is the responsibility of the Directorate for Health Supervision (Divisa), which has 100 inspectors and police support to verify complaints received. Divisa reported through the notification that “inspection actions are currently also carried out in night-time facilities, that is, with a large flow on weekends, such as bars, newsagents and parties at the door and the like”, she reports.

high consumption

The Federal District is the unit of the Federation with the highest consumption of electronic cigarettes in the country, with a prevalence of 30.8%, followed by Paraná (27.6%) and Mato Grosso do Sul (25.2%), according to a study by researchers from the Federal University of Minas Gerais , based on data from the National School Health Survey (PeNSE), from the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE).

The decision resonated not only among regulatory bodies, but also among people who use electronic cigarettes. Law student Luiz Fernando Rezende (20) has been smoking e-cigarettes since 2020 and sees no point in banning the sale of the product, because nothing prevents the sale of cigarettes and alcoholic beverages. “In Brazil, we have a tobacco industry and an alcoholic beverage industry that operate on a large scale,” he comments.

The decision is also criticized by those who do not use it often. For pharmacy student Jéssica Fernandes, the right thing would be regularization, based on the possible harm of smoking to health. “I think people should have the right to use them. But there should be more regulation, because as harmful as regular cigarettes are, electronic cigarettes have much more nicotine,” says the student who used vape last semester. 2022, but was discontinued due to health problems.

out of mating

Another debate that resurfaced was the use of the hookah – a water pipe of Eastern origin – used for tobacco smoke. According to data from the 2019 National School Health Survey (PeNSE) conducted by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), 50.6% of youth between the ages of 13 and 17 used this product.

Law student João Marco, 22, a resident of Cruzeiro, reports the negative effects of hookah use, which he was exposed to early on. “I bought a Chinese hookah when I was 12 years old, at the Import Fair. Although it was prohibited for minors, the seller did not ask for identification. Everything was of poor quality, coal, tobacco and components,” he reports.

Marco has reduced his hookah smoking and says that excessive use can be harmful to health. “In addition to addiction, it can cause loss of breath and physical resistance, dizziness, loss of appetite, sexual impotence, and makes a person vulnerable to the effects of other drugs due to the accumulation of toxins in the body,” he says.

Experts from several health fields warn against the continued use of electronic cigarettes, which cause serious harm to the body. “In the specific case of electronic cigarettes, a new disease appears which is called Electronic Cigarette-Induced Pulmonary Injury (Evali), which is an acronym for a respiratory disease resulting from the consumption of this product,” explains Doctor Ricardo Luiz de Melo Martins, a pulmonologist at the University Hospital in Brasília (HUB) and professor at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Brasília (UnB). Evali causes cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing and chest pain. Seven cases of the disease have been confirmed in Brazil by 2020.

The doctor also warns that, in contrast to reducing addiction in those who want to quit smoking, the use of electronic cigarettes increases addiction, and is difficult to treat. “Electronic cigarettes and hookahs are strategies introduced by the cigarette industry to give a new look to the consumption of the product. All of them are extremely harmful to health. Nicotine addiction is one of the most difficult to treat. Once addicted, the patient must lead to modality treatment that includes the use of psychotherapeutic techniques associated with the nicotine patch or drugs that reduce dependence on that drug,” he concluded.

*Interns supervised by Rosana Garcia

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