Referring to some substances found in e-liquids, BPOM Chairperson Penny Lukito, said that vaping is very risky. “So we need the legal basis. Without it, we cannot control and forbid their distribution. The legal basis should be from the revised Government Regulation No. 109/2012,” she said, referring to the current regulation on tobacco products and addictive substance distribution.

Sadly this proposal is a result of the ongoing panic surrounding the EVALI outbreak in the US. In fact, the Indonesian Medical Association (IDI) is suggesting the ban aswell, following reports of two patients with acute lung problems related to “vaping”.

“The use of e-cigarette and vape may increase the risk for cardiovascular diseases by 56 percent, risk for stroke by 30 percent and cardiac problems by 10 percent,” said the IDI inaccurately.

CDC confirms EVALI links to illicit THC

The CDC published findings from a study which tested lung tissue samples from 29 case patients and all 29 (100%) were found to contain vitamin E acetate oil.

Meanwhile, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recently announced that the outbreak of EVALI, is almost certainly not linked with vaping legal nicotine products. The CDC published findings from a study which tested lung tissue samples from 29 case patients, and all 29 (100%) were found to contain vitamin E acetate oil.

Speaking about this report, Professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences at Boston University’s School of Public Health, Dr. Michael Siegel, pointed out that “Three of the patients whose lung samples revealed vitamin E acetate had reported using only nicotine-containing products, thus confirming that there is significant under-reporting which may explain why about 11% of the patients do not report vaping THC.”

Some EVALI victims were reluctant to admit using illicit products

In line with this, in a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine last September, researchers had emphasized that while in a small percentage of the cases under investigation, the participants claimed to use only nicotine, not THC, it is highly likely that for obvious reasons they may have been reluctant to admit using illegal drugs. And this latest CDC report confirmed just that.

“This is significant because although not all of the case patients admitted to using THC vapes, the finding of vitamin E acetate in their lungs essentially proves that they were indeed vaping THC oils,” said Siegel referring to the latest findings.

Damage done by misinformation is not being reversed

The public health expert added that moving forward it is imperative that policy makers now take the initiative to undo all the damage that has been done by linking the lung disease to vaping. “At this point, it is time for state policy makers and politicians to immediately discontinue their conflation of this outbreak with the problem of youth e-cigarette use. It is time for all policy makers, health agencies, and health professionals to immediately stop stating or implying that legal, nicotine-containing e-liquids have anything to do with the outbreak.”

Sadly, the opposite still holds true, and the proposal to ban vaping products in Indonesia, a country plagued by such high smoking rates, is a clear example of that.

Read Further: Asia and Pacific

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