The Tobacco and Non-Smoker Protection Act includes a number of regulations on the protection of the general public:
- Ban on placing chewing tobacco and snus on the market
- Warnings such as “Smoking kills – stop now!” or “Tobacco smoke contains over 70 substances known to cause cancer” or - for non-smoking tobacco products - “This tobacco product will damage your health and cause addiction”
- Regulations for electronic cigarettes, licensing regulations for novel tobacco products
- Non-smoker protection in enclosed spaces, such as schools, public buildings and restaurants.
Information Website by the Federal Ministry for Health and Women on the Topic of Tobacco and Non-Smoking
Consuming tobacco products and related products, such as E-cigarettes, poses a health risk.
Tobacco itself already contains a large number of problematic - for instance, carcinogenic - substances. Burning tobacco when smoking cigarettes, cigarillos, cigars, shisha tobacco etc. produces more substances that could have adverse health effects, including some which are carcinogenic. Four out of five lung cancer cases that end fatally can be attributed to smoking. However, smoking can also cause cancer in many other types of body tissue, such as the lips, tongue, throat, larynx, oesophagus (gullet), stomach, pancreas, bladder and the large intestine, to name but a few.
Additionally, the nicotine contained in tobacco bears further, more specific health risks. On the one hand, it increases blood pressure levels and heart rates, leads to the increased production of gastric acid and adrenaline release -- both discussed in connection with some chronic diseases -- and is also suspected to have a tumour-enhancing effect. On the other hand, nicotine has high addiction potential in connection with other substances in tobacco smoke that can lead to increases in tobacco consumption.
While the vapor of e-cigarettes does not contain the carcinogenic substances typical for tobacco smoke, their consumption is not harmless from a health perspective, as users will still inhale nicotine. The consumption of e-cigarettes may also lead to addiction and ease the transition to tobacco products at a later point of time in the opinion of the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR). In addition, other ingredients in e-liquids - such as carbonyl compounds, some of which are suspected of causing cancer (e.g. formaldehyde), or flavour additives that could cause inflammation in the respiratory tract (e.g. diacetyl) - may also pose a threat to human health. Furthermore, studies have shown the cell-damaging effects of e-liquids. These liquids and the fine particles, ultrafine particles and vapor producing substances (glycerine, propylene glycol) contained in them, also pose an additional health risk to children and young people whose lungs are not fully developed. As a result, the consumption of nicotine-free, e-cigarettes and e-shishas cannot be considered harmless from a health perspective.
Excessive consumption of e-cigarettes or the improper use of liquids (e.g. swallowing) may also cause acute nicotine poisoning.
A comprehensive risk assessment cannot be carried out at present, given that e-cigarettes are new products and the number of studies available on this subject is still insufficient, in particular in terms of information on the long-term effects of e-cigarette consumption.