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A vapour of smoke

11 February 2016 Jonathan Faurie

As a young man, I can remember going to the movies and seeing an advertisement for Camel cigarettes being played amongst the trailers before the movie. This played a major role in glamorising the act of smoking. This glamorisation has changed in a conscious society. Tobacco sponsorships at sporting events as well as tobacco advertising are taboo. The Gunston 500 is now the Mr Price Pro, and the Rothmans July is now the Vodacom Durban July.

Growing consciousness

What was the reasoning behind banning the promotion of a billion dollar industry? Society has become more conscious over the years on the health effects of smoking and the glamorisation of the habit in mass media such as movies and television series.

The reasoning behind the public outcry was the effects that it could have on the youth, the more impressionable segment of the population. Doctors and medical professionals led the charge in changing society and encouraged creating a healthy society rather than a society that encourages tobacco abuse. 

The vape generation

There have been many products in the industry that have tried to help people break the habit of smoking. Among these are nicotine patches, chewing gum and even injections one can gets to break the habit. One of the latest developments in this field is electronic cigarettes, or vaping.

Developed by a Chinese pharmacist, the harmful substances in tobacco liquid are allegedly vaporised through an electronic atomizer. But is this form of smoking healthier than its conventional alternative?

“The growth of the use of e-cigarettes has far surpassed our information on the long-term health effects of their use. Propylene glycol is said to be safe because of the concentrations used in electronic cigarettes, but the impact of this and the other chemicals in vaporized form is unknown. In addition, rather than serving as a quitting aid, the e-cigarettes may in fact be sustaining the addiction to nicotine, resulting in frequent relapses to conventional cigarettes,” says Dr Michael Clark, Senior Vice President Swiss Re.

He adds that in fact, studies have shown that most e-cigarette users maintain the cigarette habit, reserving vaping for social occasions and for places where smoking is banned. Big tobacco companies have not ignored this growing market, with many of the big cigarette producers all manufacturing and selling e-cigarette products. Finally, there is concern that the use of e-cigarettes, with flavours such as cherry or chocolate, will become increasingly popular among younger people, including teenagers, who will later turn to conventional cigarettes as well.

Nicotine replacement products

Nicotine replacement products (NRTs) are not new. Such products have been around for years, and have been shown to be more effective for quitting smoking (11% success) than going cold turkey (5% success).

This still leaves a large number of people who were unable to quit with these NRTs, and some significant side-effects have been reported; periodontal disease, cardiac arrhythmias, anxiety and depression.

The dangers of hubblys

The use of hubbly bubblies is a growing trend in South Africa with many arguing that smoking hubbly bubbly is safer than conventional smoking. Dr Jack van Zyl, Medical Adviser to Sanlam, disagrees with this sentiment.

“Hubbly bubbly is actually more toxic than cigarettes, because it contains charcoal and tar. There are toxins from charcoal that you don’t get from cigarettes and while nicotine is the addictive substance in all tobacco products, tar is the substance that actually causes lung and throat cancer. According to the world health organisation (WHO), the smoke from a hubbly bubbly pipe contains several toxins known to cause lung cancer, heart disease and other diseases. It delivers the addictive nicotine found in cigarettes, and the charcoal burned in the pipes often produces toxins that are not found in cigarettes, such as high levels of carbon monoxide,” says Dr Van Zyl

What you need to know

Armed with all of this medical information, what is it exactly that an adviser needs to know? Well, you may be faced with questions from your clients as to whether insurers take a different stance when it comes to the above forms of smoking.

What needs to be made clear is that insurers do not differentiate between various types of smokers. If you smoke e-cigarettes or hubbly bubbly, you are classified as a smoker.

Schalk Malan, Executive Director at BrightRock, says that in line with international insurance industry practice, BrightRock’s underwriters apply smoker rates to users of e-cigarettes.

Editor’s Thoughts:
At the end of the day, you want to give your clients the best quality of life possible. This can only be achieved by living a healthy lifestyle. It is important that your clients know about the the non-distinction stance that insurers take on the various forms of smoking. Please comment below, interact with us on Twitter at @fanews_online or email me your thoughts jonathan@fanews.co.za.

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