While the US media reports several cases of young people dying due to the use of electronic cigarettes, the Czech Republic has not experienced a similar case yet but health risks are increasing due to rising addiction rates.
“Almost five percent of adults use electronic cigarettes in the Czech Republic. Their popularity is especially growing among young people,” says Adam Kulhánek, head of the Center for Research and Prevention of Tobacco Use.
Research shows that 40 percent of Czechs have tried smoking electronic cigarettes by age 16, and 17 percent smoke of these teens smoke them regularly.
E-cigarettes produce an aerosol that contains significantly less harmful substances than cigarette smoke. However, according to experts, they can also cause health complications as well as addiction to nicotine fillings.
Another alternative is heated tobacco, which chemically decomposes in the cigarette. This process produces tar as in conventional cigarettes, but at a much lower concentration.
According to the Ministry of Finance, about 600,000 heat-not-burn tobacco devices were imported into the Czech Republic last year. This year, the total number is estimated to double.
“Researchers point out that these devices have been on the market for too short a time to assess the health effects of long-term use accurately. However, the presence of tar makes it reasonable to assume the risks of heated tobacco devices will be higher than of electronic cigarettes, but lower compared to classic cigarettes,” said Lukáš Kohoutek, president of the Czech Coalition Against Tobacco.
According to experts, e-cigarettes or heated tobacco are a solution for smokers who want to get rid of the risks of classic cigarettes, but cannot completely give up their addiction.
In the Czech Republic, cigarettes are behind 15,000 to 16,000 deaths each year.
On average, smokers shorten their lives by at least ten years. The most common causes of smoking-related deaths are cardiovascular diseases, cancer and respiratory diseases.
Quitting without the help of doctors or addiction specialists usually has a low chance of success. In Czechia, medications that can alleviate withdrawal symptoms are not covered by public health insurance. However, private health insurance companies contribute up to 4,000 Czech korunas (€150) per year for treatment.