Turning Japanese (hearts and minds)

Posted 3rd December 2014 by Dave Cross
In Japan, where the sale and purchase of nicotine products is banned without a licence, vapers take to illegally importing their liquid. Vaping devices are not covered by the law and can be purchased within the country. As Japan comes to terms with what legislation is appropriate Agence France-Presse are circulating a new study.

The story claims that the findings demonstrate that E-cigarettes contain up to 10 times the level of cancer-causing agents in regular tobacco. Japan's Health Ministry commissioned the research and found elevated levels of carcinogens such as formaldehyde and acetaldehyde in vapour.

Naoki Kunugita, a researcher, said: “In one brand of e-cigarette the team found more than 10 times the level of carcinogens contained in one regular cigarette. Especially when the... wire (which vaporises the liquid) gets overheated, higher amounts of those harmful substances seemed to be produced.”

He went on to add that the formaldehyde detected varied between samples.

Earlier this year, Yumiko Mochizuki, chief of the Division of Tobacco Policy Research with the National Cancer Centre in Tokyo, said Japan should take immediate action to pre-empt an uncontrolled spread of e-cigarettes. His opinions on vaping indicate where the emphasis behind this research may have come from.

Governments of the world have helped reduce smoking rates through bans on smoking in public places, bans on advertisements, higher taxes and other measures since the United States became the first country to officially recognize the negative health impact of smoking 50 years ago,” Mochizuki said.

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E-cigarettes have emerged through gaps of those measures and spread rapidly across the world. Many countries are being slow in regulating them and are leaving them readily available to minors. Japan should address the problem promptly before e-cigarettes gain full currency.”

The use of electronic cigarettes is on the rise in Japan, and the authorities are yet to define the product and its accessories, leaving gaping holes in the law and questions about regulations on sales and age limits for users. The Law on Prohibition of Smoking by Minors bans those aged under 20 from lighting up. But the National Police Agency said there is no consensus on whether e-cigarettes with nicotine should be legally classified as tobacco products.

What is known about the testing regime is that a machine took 10 sets of 15 puffs from 13 cartridges. Given Kunugita’s admission that elevated levels occurred when “the wire” overheated would lead observers to believe he was actually measuring full or partial dry hits and not ensuring a constant supply of liquid as found in the studies put forward by Doctor Farsalinos. In his article, Farsalinos compares the Japanese results to those by Moir et al that found SIX TIMES LESS.

"You call them e-cigarettes, but they are products totally different from regular tobacco," the ministry official said. "The government is now studying the possible risks associated with them, with view to looking at how they should be regulated."

It will be interesting to see the full details of how the research was performed, until then speculation will continue that they simply obtained the results they were looking for in order to support stringent legislation.


 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, dog walker
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