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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2306

How safe is e-cigarettes?

By Manjari Peiris

Dr. Rakesh Mahajan Gupta, Deputy Director of the Department of Health and Family Welfare Punjab, India, says that there is ample scientific evidence available about the harms of nicotine and that is the reason it is unapproved under the Drugs Act except as nicotine gums and patches which are approved for cessation.

"Nicotine is also banned under the Poisons Act and Pesticides Act, so why do we need to promote an illegal product with known lethal dose of 0.5 mg/ kg body weight?. Kids have been killed by accidental ingestion of refills, almost fatal accidents have happened because of bursting of batteries.

The propaganda in favour of e-cigarettes with seemingly harmless name of vaping has been created by the tobacco industry, in a big way. Today, some of the most popular e-cigarette brands are owned by Big Tobacco. One should beware of these tobacco industry propaganda, Dr. Gupta alerted.

"We shouldn't fall into the trap of the tobacco industry and go for regulation of e-cigarettes under any Act, this is what the tobacco industry wants.

Remember we have not been able to regulate tobacco in decades, in spite of having had very good provisions in law. Tobacco industry will always find ways and means to circumvent the existing laws."

Cigarette smoking rates among teens have dropped over the last few decades, but the use of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) which is also called vaping has risen in this age group. Surveys reveal that many teens do not know about the dangers of these products, and a few popular vaping trends could increase the risk even more.

A flash drive shaped system called JUUL contains roughly the same amount of nicotine as an entire pack of cigarettes. Since the two years it was introduced, it has captured almost half of the entire e-cigarette market.

Many kids start vaping even younger, although laws prohibit kids under 18 from buying e-cigarettes. Some reasons that teens get attracted to vaping are that it is cool to them, it is novel, high-tech and it has flavours and they perceive it to be less risky than cigarette smoking. May be it is due to the fact that the kind of public health campaigns that have warned kids about the risks of tobacco cigarettes doesn't exist for e-cigarettes. Both kids and adults should know that it is not just water, it is aerosol, where there are harmful ingredients.

As you light a traditional cigarette the tobacco burns, it produces chemicals like carbon monoxide and formaldehyde, which you inhale. Instead, an e-cigarette uses a coil to heat a liquid until it produces an aerosol vapor.

The main chemicals in e-cigarettes including propylene glycol and glycerin are technically less toxic than those in tobacco cigarettes. But if the product temperature gets too high, if it is overheated, then the same compounds start to decompose so that they can generate very dangerous compounds like formaldehyde.

Several studies have revealed many important findings relating to e-cigarettes;

Teens who use e-cigarettes are exposed to more harmful chemicals like benzene, ethylene oxide, and acrylamide than non-users. These chemicals known collectively as volatile organic compounds are linked to cancer and nervous system damage, among other health effects.

E-cigarette users also inhale large amounts of toxic metals, including lead, in the aerosols, these metals leak from the e-cigarette coils.

E-cigarettes deliver ultra-fine chemical particles into the lungs. Teens who use these products have higher rates of asthma, more frequent asthma attacks, and more school absences due to breathing troubles. E-cigarettes seem to trigger the same kinds of inflammatory responses in the lungs as cigarettes.

One component that e-cigarettes and tobacco cigarettes share is nicotine. The amount of nicotine that they get depends on the product that they use.

There is evidence that young people who use e-cigarettes are more likely to try out smoking tobacco in the future. Since use of e-cigarettes is easier than smoking a cigarette, it is a way to ease kids into nicotine, while their body gets adjusted to nicotine, they gradually get used to cigarettes. Thus e-cigarettes are going to be a gateway to traditional cigarettes.

One way to curb teen vaping is constant mass media campaigns that educate kids about the dangers along with better supervision. Smoke-free laws are also equally important for protecting kids.

E-cigarettes are not currently approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a quit smoking aid. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, a group of health experts that makes recommendations about preventive health care, has concluded that evidence is insufficient to recommend e-cigarettes for smoking cessation in adults, including pregnant women.

- Asian Tribune -

How safe is e-cigarettes?
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