New Users Registration  |  Useful Links  |  FAQ  |  Site Map 
 
Go Search

 

Skip Navigation LinksHealth Xchange > News
  News  
  Categories  
     
  Chronology  
 
  2013 2015   Dec 2015 | Nov 2015 | Oct 2015 | Sep 2015 | Aug 2015 | Jul 2015 | Jun 2015 | May 2015 | Apr 2015 | Mar 2015 | Feb 2015 | Jan 2015 |
  2013 2014   Dec 2014 | Nov 2014 | Oct 2014 | Sep 2014 | Aug 2014 | Jul 2014 | Jun 2014 | May 2014 | Apr 2014 | Mar 2014 | Feb 2014 | Jan 2014 |
  2013   Dec 2013 | Nov 2013 | Oct 2013 | Sep 2013 | Aug 2013 | Jul 2013 | Jun 2013 | May 2013 | Apr 2013 | Mar 2013 | Feb 2013 | Jan 2013 |
  2012   Dec 2012 | Nov 2012 | Oct 2012 | Sep 2012 | Aug 2012 | Jul 2012Jun 2012May 2012Apr 2012Mar 2012 | Feb 2012 | Jan 2012 |
  2011   Dec 2011Nov 2011Oct 2011 | Sep 2011 | Aug 2011Jul 2011Jun 2011 | May 2011 | Apr 2011 | Mar 2011 | Feb 2011 | Jan 2011 |
  2010   Dec 2010 | Nov 2010 | Oct 2010 | Sep 2010 | Aug 2010 | Jul 2010 | Jun 2010 | May 2010 | Apr 2010 | Mar 2010 | Feb 2010 | Jan 2010 |
  2009   Dec 2009 | Nov 2009 | Oct 2009 | Sep 2009 | Aug 2009 |
 
     
  Topic  
 
  Health Policy and Announcements | Diseases and Outbreaks
  Medical Research | New Treatments and Technology
   
 
     
  RSS  
 
  Singapore   SingHealth | Health Promotion Board | Ministry of Health | Asiaone
  International   World Health Organization | Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (US)
       
 
     
  News Article  
 

Young smokers turn to noxious ‘rollies’

 
  Thursday, 09 l 12 l 2010 Source: The Straits Times   
By: Fiona Low
     
 

Roll-your-own smokes could harm lungs more: Docs 

smoking-rolliesPREVIOUSLY favoured by the older generation, ang hoon, or loose tobacco leaves, are gaining popularity among young people as a cheaper alternative to cigarettes. A bag of tobacco leaves – readily available in supermarkets and convenience stores – costs as little as $5, enough to fill 50 cigarettes or more. But doctors say these roll-your-own smokes – commonly known as “rollies” – could be more damaging to the lungs. Unlike most regular cigarettes, they come without filters to block larger smoke particles from entering the lungs.

Users of rollies typically put a wad of tobacco leaves on a small rectangle of paper, which is then rolled into a tube and smoked from one end. “Without a filter, the smoke will be more concentrated and this could cause greater irritation to the throat. Over time, this could lead to an even greater risk of mouth and throat cancer,” said Dr Ong Kian Chung, a respiratory specialist at Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre.

Ms JoAnn Taylor, deputy director of the substance abuse department at the Health Promotion Board (HPB), said: “Loose tobacco leaves contain many of the harmful chemicals, such as carbon monoxide, nicotine and tar, that are also found in cigarettes.” Those who go for rollies face similar risks of contracting throat and lung cancer, she added.

Figures from Singapore Customs show that the amount of loose tobacco leaves sold more than doubled between 2006 and last year – from 38,174kg to 82,994kg. There are 38 brands of tobacco leaves and prices range from $5 to $15 for about 20g, enough for more than 50 rollies. This is much cheaper than paying about $10 for a pack of 20 cigarettes.

Calling it an area for concern, Dr Lam Pin Min, chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Health and an MP for Ang Mo Kio GRC, said: “This disparity in the unit cost may be one reason why younger people, as well as low income earners, are turning to these products. “It may be necessary for the Ministry of Health or Ministry of Finance to review and address this disparity.” Imposing appropriate taxes may deter young people from using tobacco leaves, he added.

As things stand now, the cost savings are a big allure for users like copywriter Alexander Lim, who has been smoking mostly rollies for the past seven years. “Cigarettes are more convenient but the cost savings from rollies are quite ridiculous,” said the 26-year-old, adding that a packet of tobacco leaves is good for up to a month of use, versus less than a week with a packet of cigarettes.

Doctors have warned that rollies could lead to increased consumption. “Because the amount of tobacco is not controlled, users could end up putting more in each cigarette, even though they are under the impression that they are smoking the same number of cigarettes each day,” said Dr Hui Kok Pheng, a respiratory specialist in private practice. “Also because they are cheaper, users might be more inclined to increase their habit,” added Dr Hui, the former president of the Asthma Association of Singapore.

While HPB figures show that the overall proportion of young people who have tried smoking has declined from 26 per cent in 2000 to 16 per cent last year, doctors have seen more patients who suffer from lung disease at a younger age in the past five to 10 years. Dr Ong said some diagnosed as suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease now are in their 40s to 50s. In the past, they were usually diagnosed in their 60s to 70s.

“This could be due to more people smoking at an earlier age,” he said. The disease is a condition where the airways in the lungs become narrowed. Smoking is one of the main causes of the disease. Said Dr Ong: “Young people who begin smoking at a younger age may be more vulnerable to the harmful effects as their lung function is still developing. In the long run, this could lead to greater health problems later in life.”

     
 Ask the Specialists (1st - 30th Nov)
     
Gastric Pain, what can I do?
Your Gastric Pain could be a signal of a more serious condition that needs attention; or that you need a change in lifestyle. Ask our Specialist now!
     
  Your eye and contact lenses
Concerned with the side effects of wearing contact lens? Need a guide on how to take care of your eyes and lenses? Ask our Specialist now!
     
 
 Ask the Specialists - Answered Topics
             
  Aesthetic Eye   Asthma  
  Breast Cancer   Cancer and Nutrition  
  Child's Eye Conditions   Depression  
  Breast Cancer   Eczema  
  Elderly Eye Conditions   Health At Work  
  Heart Disease   LASIK  
  Low Back Pain   Maternal Depression  
  Money and Healthcare   Managing Pain  
  Pre-pregnancy   Prostate Problem  
  Risk of Heart Disease   Sleep  
  Sports Injuries   Thyroid Problems  
  Weight Management        
             
 
 Catch up with Health Xchange
 
  facebook   newsletter  
 
  twitter