WHO fears e-cigarettes would create a new generation of SMOKERS?

Dr. Nagaraj B, Consultant Interventional Pulmonologist & Sleep Specialist, MBBS, MD, FCCP (USA), Aster Prime Hyderabad

According to WHO, E-cigarettes are electronic devices, most common form of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) and electronic non-nicotine delivery systems (ENNDS), that heat a liquid and produce an aerosol, or mix of small particles in the air. They are known by different names: e-cigs,” “e-hookahs,” “mods,” “vape pens,” “vapes,” “tank systems etc. Manufacturers market e-cigarettes as tools for quitting or cutting down on smoking, but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) class them as tobacco products. United States federal law does not allow the sale of tobacco products to people under the age of 21. However, a major concern about vaping is its attraction for young people. Vaping is popular among teens. In fact, it is now the most popular form of tobacco use among young people in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As per the CDC study, 99% of e-cigarettes sold in USA contained Nicotine. Even though some e-cigarettes marketed as containing 0% nicotine have been found to contain nicotine. 

How eCigarette works: 

Most e-cigarettes are made up of the following parts:

  • The mouthpiece: This is a cartridge fixed to the end of a tube. Inside is a small plastic cup containing absorbent material soaked in a liquid solution.
  • The atomizer: This heats the liquid, causing it to vaporize so that a person can inhale it.
  • The battery: This power the heating element.
  • The sensor: This activates the heater when the user sucks on the device.
  • The solution: E-liquid, or e-juice, contains a combination of nicotine, a base, which is usually propylene glycol, and flavoring.

When the user sucks on the mouthpiece, the heating element vaporizes the solution, which the person then “vapes,” or inhales. The nicotine content of the liquid can range from “very high” to zero.

Flavors vary widely, from “traditional” and menthol to watermelon and “lava flow.” Some e-cigarettes taste like traditional cigarettes and even mimic the tastes of specific brands.

Why avoid eCigarettes: 

  • Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine and other harmful substances. Nicotine is highly addictive.
  • E cigarettes also contain acrolein, a herbicide that can cause acute lung injury leads to COPD , lung cancer.
  • Long term side effects of vaping: 
    • Lung injury-COPD 
    • Heart attack, Stroke
    • Reproductive issues 
    • Low birth weight- vaping while pregnant
    • Vulnerable to covid-19

Can e-cigarettes help people quit smoking?

E-cigarettes are not approved by the FDA as a quit smoking aid. So far, the research shows there is limited evidence that e-cigarettes are effective for helping smokers quit. There are other proven, safe, and effective methods for quitting smoking. One way to start is to talk with your doctor, nurse, or a trained toll- free quit line counselor to figure out the best strategies for you.

What are the tobacco laws in India that control eCigarettes usage? 

  • In the interest of public health, electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) were banned in September 2019, by the Indian Government.
  • India banned e-cigarettes in 2019, Despite the ban, Indian authorities are struggling to regulate the use of e-cigarettes, in particular due to black market. There have been numerous reports of substandard and potentially dangerous products being sold in India on the black market.
  • The 2019 ban was a right, timely, and important public health decision, but preventing use of e-cigarettes, especially in adolescents, remains a challenge and more needs to be done.