Local vape owners in Trinidad are calling for proper regulations to guide the way forward as it relates to importation and proper usage of vaping products, to ensure that such products are made available to the public in the safest way possible.
Vaping is the action or practice of inhaling and exhaling vapour containing nicotine and non-nicotine/or flavouring produced by a vape device. It is generally regarded as less harmful than smoking because it delivers nicotine by heating a liquid in a much less harmful way. Vaping is also considered cheaper than smoking and can give the user a similar effect.
Medical professionals around the world agree that vaping exposes the user to fewer toxicants than smoking tobacco cigarettes. It is also used to ease the transition from traditional cigarettes to not smoking at all.
Medical Director Michael Blaha, director of clinical research at the Johns Hopkins Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease states that regular tobacco cigarettes contain 7,000 chemicals, and while the chemicals in some e-cigarettes cannot be verified, he states that there is “no doubt that they expose you to fewer toxic chemicals than traditional cigarettes.” [i]
Daren Narine, owner of Premium Vapes in San Fernando, said many vapers are from the 18 to 40 age group and legislation should be drafted based on our own experiences here, and not follow the mandate as set by other countries, “We can use other countries understanding and research as a base like the United States or the United Kingdom, but ultimately our legislation should be reflective of our own society so we will not have to revise or amend it three years down the line.”
He also recommended that the government look at developing a separate act for vaping, apart from the Tobacco Act, “Tobacco is the leaf you use for cigarettes, but the vaping industry uses liquid – which use some vegetables and food flavouring. Every day, there are new e-liquids which are being introduced that need to be regularised. There are companies that do not have Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval and need to be monitored.”
Another reason, he stated was that local industry standards need to be improved especially for those entrepreneurs who are bringing substandard products directly from foreign countries, “All imports should meet a standard of quality control in order for the products to be sold here. Once vaping products pass through the FDA, there is a shelf life of two years, and vaping juices can expire. This further supports the need for control.”
He added, “This call for regulation is not because vaping liquids are specifically harmful, but because all industries have regulations, and this one should be no different, to ensure consumer safety.” Vaping retailers across the country all agree with the need for regulation, including placing age limits on the purchase and use of products, industry reporting, manufacturing standards, product and package labelling (e.g. health warnings), banning the use of certain ingredients and flavours and the promotion of vaping products.
In Trinidad and Tobago, there is no current legislation regarding vaping or vaping products.