Addiction is a common problem in today’s time. It compromises on the health and economic well-being of people. As per World Health Organization (WHO), nearly 7 million people die each year due to tobacco consumption. Of these, 6 million die due to direct consumption and the rest suffer as a result of passive smoking. When we consider the data for India, around 1 million people die due to tobacco consumption annually, which is the “fourth leading cause of non-communicable diseases (NCD)”.
The bad effect of smoking on health is no secret. And that is how electronic cigarettes (or e-cigarettes) came into being. The smokers who are trying to be on anti-smoke opt for vaping. But is vaping safe? If yes, then why did India ban e-cigarettes?
What are e-cigarettes?
Electronic cigarettes are also known as vapour, e-cigs, and e-cigarettes. An e-cigarette is just like a gadget that runs on batteries. It is a device which works by heating a liquid into an aerosol which consumers inhale and exhale. It does not burn tobacco, but has cartridges filled with nicotine and other addictive substances. This vape contains substances such as nicotine, propylene glycol, glycerin and various flavourings. These cigarettes come in various looks such as disposable regular cigarettes, e-pipes, e-cigar, large size tank devices, medium size tank devices, rechargeable e-cigarettes, etc. Of late, teenagers looking for thrills have also started experimenting with e-cigarettes in large numbers, with the misconception that they are ‘safe’.
What are the health risks of e-cigarettes?
People often turn to e-cigarettes as an alternative to regular tobacco smoking. But these electronic cigarettes have their own harmful side effects which are hazardous to health. Studies shows that vapour consumers often develop severe lung diseases. Most of them are teens and young adults. This is followed by acute chest pain, shortness of breath, diarrhoea, fatigue, fever, abdominal pain and other symptoms. And these difficulties are common mostly to people who are vaping.
Some other health hazards of vaping are:
(a) Vaping has a boomerang effect on people, as people who turn to vaping as an alternative get in the habit of smoking after a short time
(b) A pregnant woman vaping has a direct harmful effect on the developing foetus
(c) A leakage from e-cigarettes can cause acute nicotine poisoning
(d) The devices of vaping such as tanks and pipes emit bad radiation. Also, many accidents and burns have been reported due to faulty batteries and devices
(e) Tobacco is known to have chemicals which can lead to cancer. Similarly, vapours also have nicotine which can cause cancer.
Why are e-cigarettes banned in India?
On September 18, 2019, India has banned electronic cigarettes, including its production, manufacture, import, export, transport, sale, distribution, storage and advertisement with immediate effect. And anybody violating it will have to pay a penalty of Rs 100,000 or imprisonment for up to one year. However, the Ordinance is yet to be approved by the Parliament in November. As per the Indian Council of Medical research (ICMR), nicotine solvents in the vapour tanks carry carcinogens such as acetaldehyde, formaldehyde, and acetone which are potential health hazards. These flavours can cause serious lung diseases.
Electronic cigarettes became popular as a proxy for tobacco. But some studies show that there is very little chance with its nicotine patches and gums that people will actually stop smoking and not go back to it.
Another question that arises is, whether they are addictive or not? Reports shows that the flavours used in these vapes are one of the three reasons for people of all age groups to use them.