Over the last three to five years Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) – or e-cigarettes, as we know them – have become very popular. Even though they were launched as an alternative to actual smoking – to help addicts quit smoking – they are increasingly being used as a style statement.
Owing to the unique designing and mechanism of action they are particularly fashionable among the youth. They emit aerosols instead of smoke, and contain minute quantities of nicotine, propylene glycol, and flavouring agents.
In India too their use is on the rise. They are easily available on most of the e-commerce websites in India. The flavouring and packaging are particularly geared to attract the youth, who are the main target customers for e-cigarette manufacturers. There is even a slang word among teenagers to describe e-cigarettes: ‘vapers’.
Whether the use of e-cigarettes constitutes a style statement or not, it seems that their primary purpose of helping people quit smoking also appears dubious.
The Maharashtra Government, which seems to be banning everything these days, has also initiated a crackdown on ENDS. Following this, if the expert committee set up by the Government so recommends, the Centre may also come up with laws to regulate the sale of ENDS.
This is one regulatory law that might actually be accepted, because there is mounting evidence to suggest that e-cigarettes are actually more harmful than originally thought. This year, the American Journal of Public Health published an article by researchers from the University of California, who concluded that smokers who used e-cigarettes were significantly less likely to give up smoking than those who had never used them.
The flavouring agent is said to attract youngsters to e-cigarettes, which may lead to abuse of the product, and even act as a gateway to actual nicotine addiction. Besides, one of the ingredients, propylene glycol is a known industrial toxin. So, a product which was originally used with an intention to reduce smoking may paradoxically perpetuate and worsen the problem.
If e-cigarettes are not recommended, then what can one need to do to give up smoking? The advice given in my earlier article on quitting smoking holds good here.
If you are using e-cigarettes, it is probably wise to end the use of ENDS.