Electronic cigarettes are addictive, dangerous to health: RIVM (update)

Claims that electronic cigarettes are less harmful than ordinary cigarettes are untrue, according to the Dutch public health institute RIVM in Thursday’s AD.

Like an ordinary cigarette, e-cigarettes are addictive and contain noxious substances, the body is quoted by the AD as saying.

Users report mouth and throat irritations and nausea, the exhaled air contains dangerous chemicals and the nicotine which is inhaled is a danger to unborn children, the paper says.

Junior health minister Martin van Rijn is now planning to take immediate action to curb the use of the cigarettes rather than wait for legislation from Brussels.


‘I am taking the RIVM and product safety inspectors’ warnings seriously,’ the AD quotes Van Rijn as saying. ‘That is why I am going to take extra steps in terms of information to the public about the safety of the e-cigarette.’

There are no rules in the Netherlands about where e-cigarettes can be smoked because they do not contain tobacco. ‘But until there is more clarity, researchers recommend they be smoked away from children,’ he said.

The minister has also asked the RIVM to carry out further investigation.

Marcel Göertz, founder of the Dutch e-cigarette users’ lobby group Acvoda told the Volkskrant all major international studies show e-cigaretters are far less dangerous than ordinary tobacco products.

‘And there is no damage to the surroundings,’ he sadi. ‘The RIVM report has major errors and deliberately leaves out information… we know exactly what an e-cigarette does to you, just not in the long term. And that is being researched.’

Water pipes

In July, Van Rijn said he had no plans to ban the sale of ‘shisha pens’, a mini water pipe which mimics the effect of smoking and which is popular among school children.

However, addiction experts at the Trimbos institute said the use of shisha pens is a worrying development because of the potential health risks and the fact that youngsters become used to the idea of smoking and inhaling smoke.

The pens can be bought online and in tobacconists. While the Dutch importer has recommended they are not sold to the under-16s, this is not compulsory.

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