Before you start the argument that E-cigarettes are less harmful than the traditional ones. Don’t. E-cigarettes, even though less harmful, are still cigarettes, and they’re surely doing the same thing that the normal one does, albeit a little slowly. Slow and steady isn’t always the best option perhaps.
On 26th July, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned against the use of vaping products by smokers trying to quit their deadly habit. At the time of launch, the product was marketed as a substitute for the traditional cigarette, offering an alternative to those who wanted to quit the habit. However, it hasn’t actually turned out that way. Instead of convincing people to quit smoking, it has actually lead to convincing non-smokers to take up vaping. Today, more high school students use e-cigarettes than regular cigarettes. Maciej Goniewicz, one of the leading e-cigarette researchers said: “[These are] people who were breathing pure air for a long time and have never smoked tobacco cigarettes, who now have started using e-cigarettes.”
There are even questions challenging e-cigarette manufacturer’s claims of the product being less harmful, with the WHO warning that the misinformation spread by the tobacco industry about e-cigarettes was "a present and real threat." To understand its dangers, it is imperative to understand how an e-cigarette works. It basically is a device powered by a battery that heats a liquid into an aerosol, which is then inhaled by the user. While this in itself is pretty harmful, the problem arises when the heated liquid has nicotine in it, which is predominantly the case. Some devices, such as Juul, which is the market leader in vaping products, deliver astonishingly high levels of nicotine, with each hit packing quite the punch. The nicotine content in Juul devices is 0.7ml per pod, which in layman terms is approximately equal to a pack of cigarettes or 200 puffs. Take your pick.
Research on the health hazards of e-cigarettes is still preliminary and inconclusive, because of the fact that people haven’t been using e-cigarettes for long. However, the product, in its nascent life cycle, has already posed serious health concerns. Nicotine in e-cigarettes does the same damage as nicotine in a traditional one. It harms the arteries causing them to narrow, raises blood pressure, speeds up the heart rate and has even been known to trigger seizures. The list of the ill effects of nicotine is endless, kinda like your promise to have that one last cigarette before quitting.
Even when the flavour of the e-cigarette is nicotine free, it still poses a threat. The heating element in e-cigarettes emits tiny particles, sometimes even small metals that can get lodged into the lungs, eventually seeping its way into the body’s circulatory system. These particles pose a threat not only to you but the people around you as well. These particles are so small that when one exhales them, they act as pollutants in the environment, and even run the risk of someone else passively inhaling them as it is too fine to be picked up by our respiratory tract’s defence mechanism.
With several cases of e-cigarette hazards coming to light, with a teenager's jaw shattering last month after a vape pen exploded in his mouth, several governments have sought to impose a ban on it. E-cigarettes have been banned in as many as 27 countries that include Austria, Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan, UAE, Brazil, and Argentina. Even in India following the health ministry's advisory, 12 states decided to ban Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS). The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) had also proposed an amendment to the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines) Rules, 2018 to ban the advertisement of e-cigarettes.
While the jury is still out on the effectiveness of e-cigarettes helping people quit smoking and their associated health hazards, the bottom line is that it still uses nicotine as its base, paving the way for a potential nicotine addiction, and the last time I checked, that surely isn't a good thing.