Doc­tors slam gov’t fail­ure to ban elec­tronic cig­a­rette out­lawed in Europe

The Jerusalem Post - - NEWS - • By JUDY SIEGEL

Although JUUL, the elec­tronic cig­a­rette with sub­stan­tial amounts of ad­dic­tive nico­tine, has been barred from sale in Europe and is ad­dict­ing many young­sters in the US, the Health Min­istry has not done any­thing to pre­vent its im­port to Is­rael or even re­strict its use.

JUUL, which looks like a disk-on-key de­vice, con­tains 59 mil­ligrams of nico­tine for ev­ery mil­li­liter of liq­uid – much more of the drug than the six mg. to 30 mg. con­tained in other e-cigs. They can be pur­chased by in­di­vid­u­als of any age, even chil­dren, in al­most three dozen stores in five cities, in­clud­ing Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Ra­mat Gan, and not only at to­bac­conists but also at spe­cial “vape shops” that are open­ing and be­com­ing pop­u­lar. They can also be smoked any­where and ad­ver­tised with­out lim­its.

JUUL is “ad­dic­tive and dan­ger­ous to in­di­vid­ual and pub­lic health in Is­rael,” said Dr. Ha­gai Levine, of the As­so­ci­a­tion of Pub­lic Health Physi­cians and the Med­i­cal So­ci­ety for the Pre­ven­tion and Smok­ing. “Ex­pe­ri­ence in the US teaches us that the prod­uct is aimed es­pe­cially at young­sters, who are es­pe­cially sus­cep­ti­ble to nico­tine ad­dic­tion.”

“There is a real dan­ger that the mas­sive pen­e­tra­tion of this prod­uct with­out any reg­u­la­tory lim­i­ta­tions will lead to in­creased use also of con­ven­tional cig­a­rettes among youths and cause ad­dic­tion, ill­ness and deaths,” he said on Wed­nes­day.

Deputy Health Min­is­ter Ya’acov Litz­man, Fi­nance Min­is­ter Moshe Kahlon and Health Min­is­ter and Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu must “take the state comptroller’s re­cent re­port se­verely crit­i­cal of Litz­man, the Health Min­istry and the rest of the government’s fail­ure to strug­gle against smok­ing and deal with the pen­e­tra­tion of to­bacco and nico­tine prod­ucts into Is­rael,” Levine said.

Ur­gent leg­is­la­tion must be ini­ti­ated by the Health Min­istry to this end, he said, adding: “I see no de­ter­mi­na­tion by Litz­man to pro­tect pub­lic health. He is just stand­ing aside. He can ini­ti­ate reg­u­la­tory leg­is­la­tion. If he has a lack of tools, he must act in ac­cor­dance with the law.”

In re­sponse, Health Min­istry spokesman Eyal Bas­son said as part of the bill pro­moted by the min­istry to­gether with MK Ei­tan Ca­bel (Zion­ist Union), elec­tronic cig­a­rettes can be de­clared equiv­a­lent to to­bacco prod­ucts so that all ex­ist­ing and new re­stric­tions, such as pre­vent­ing sale to those un­der 18, will ap­ply.

In 2002, he said, the Supreme Court ruled that the Health Min­istry has no au­thor­ity in ex­ist­ing leg­is­la­tion to pre­vent the im­port or re­stric­tion of mar­ket­ing of e-cigs and that the cur­rent leg­is­la­tion on to­bacco prod­ucts does not ap­ply to them. How­ever, Bas­son did not ex­plain why the min­istry has not taken ac­tion since 2002 against e-cigs and to out­law JUUL as it has been in Europe.

Pro­duced in at­trac­tive col­ors and fruit and other fla­vors, the piece of plas­tic is thin and can eas­ily been hid­den from adults. The ini­tial prod­uct costs about NIS 120, and a pack of four liq­uid fillers goes for NIS 70. One filler, equal in nico­tine to a pack of cig­a­rettes, can be fin­ished in a day by a heavy JUUL smoker. The man­u­fac­tur­ers have claimed that their prod­uct is “a safer al­ter­na­tive to cig­a­rettes,” but this has not been proven.

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