Professor Ovadi Dagan, Director of the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit at Schneider Children's Medical Center, on Meidan Keller who died after using an electronic cigarette, April 15, 2023 (Schneider Hospital Spokesperson's Office)
A new national survey shows that one in three believe that an e-cigarette is less dangerous than a regular cigarette. Its results are published about a month and a half after the tragic death of 16-year-old Meidan Baruch Keller, who died after his lungs collapsed due to the use of electronic cigarettes.
It also emerged that 31 percent of the respondents believe that a complete transition from regular cigarettes to electronic cigarettes will lead to an improvement in the state of health. On the other hand, 17 percent believe that the transition will cause a worsening, and 34 percent of respondents believe that it will have no effect.
In addition, the survey suggests that people who smoke tend to believe more in the health priority of regular cigarettes over electronic cigarettes (21 percent among smokers, compared to 16 percent among non-smokers). However, among the Arab population and people over the age of 30, there is a belief that electronic cigarettes are more harmful, or at least to the same extent, as regular cigarettes. In addition, 61 percent of the respondents believed that information about the relative risk of cigarettes and electronic cigarettes should be given in information leaflets that will be inserted into tobacco packs.
16-year-old Meidan Keller (Photo: documentation on social networks according to section 27A of the Copyright Law)
According to researchers Dr. Vicki Myers and Prof. Leah Rosen, the survey findings are the result of conflicting information about electronic cigarettes. In addition, the two claim that the survey actually puts a spotlight on the low awareness of the subject among various populations. "Action must be taken to increase awareness of the damage caused by smoking electronic cigarettes, and in general among people over the age of 30 as well as in the Arab sector," they argued. "Evidence-based information, including the use of information leaflets in packets as prescribed by law, must be made accessible. This, along with explaining the harms of smoking, in order to help smokers make informed choices," they added.
The researchers also noted that electronic cigarettes have a negative effect on youth, and therefore policy making regarding them should be such that on the one hand it will benefit adult smokers, and on the other hand will provide protection for this population.
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On the right, a proper lung photo, on the left: a photo of the boy's collapsed lungs (Photo: official website, Schneider Spokesperson's Office)
Concurrently with the publication of the survey, a number of health organizations wrote to the Speaker of the Knesset on Sunday, following announcements by the chairman of the special committee to combat drug and alcohol abuse and the chairman of the health committee, about a change in the status quo in the committees' deliberations – and in light of their decision to allow representatives of tobacco and smoking companies to participate in committee deliberations. "Providing a platform for representatives of smoking products companies who represent the interests of tobacco and smoking companies is not an act of liberalism and democracy," said the letter, signed by the Israel Cancer Association and the Association of Public Health Physicians, among others. "These are not ordinary citizens, but representatives of an industry with a long and rich history of activity, whose ultimate goal is to harm public health," he said.
"Therefore, the World Health Organization and the UN General Assembly have declared an inherent and total conflict of interest between public health and the tobacco and smoking industry, which in practice are responsible for the mortality of eight million people a year worldwide, and the mortality of about 8,000 men and women each year in Israel," it said.
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