The Indian Government has banned the production, import, export, transport, sale, storage and advertisements of the e-cigarettes in the country. The decision to ban e-cigarettes was aimed at protecting the youth as they were most vulnerable to the health hazards of it.
E-cigarettes were promoted as a tool to help people get out of their smoking habits. On the contrary, people were getting addicted to it, revealed various reports. So if you are wondering what are electronic cigarettes and what health risks do they pose, then do read the article till the end as we explain all the common questions on e-cigarettes.
What is an e-cigarette?
Electronic cigarette, popularly known as e-cigarette, is a battery-powered device that converts nicotine solution into aerosol (mist) that can be inhaled and exhaled. Unlike cigarettes, these devices do not burn or use tobacco leaves. However, it looks like an ordinary cigarette and gives the feeling of a real cigarette to the user.
E-cigarettes look like an ordinary cigarette and five the feeling of a real cigarette to the user. They are known by many different names such as e-hookahs, vape pens, tank systems and electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS). When it comes to the shape and size of e-cigarettes, they may resemble ordinary cigarettes, cigars and smoking pipes. However, off late new designs such as pens, whistles, hookahs, lighters were also available.ewer designs that may resemble whistles, pens etc.
How does an e-cigarette work?
When a user inhales from the mouthpiece, the device gets activated. This causes the atomiser to heat up the liquid using a battery. On heating the liquid, vapour or mist is produced and the LED indicator lights up. The replaceable cartridge stores the flavoured liquid and nicotine. The battery can be charged from a car or USB port.
This vapour or mist is inhaled into the lungs, which is responsible for the health risks. The main constituents of the liquid solution are nicotine, propylene glycol, glycerol, flavouring agents, and other chemicals. And like secondhand smoke, bystanders can also breathe in this aerosol when the user exhales into the air.
Are e-cigarettes better than normal cigarettes?
Unlike popular belief, e-cigarettes are not safe. In fact, just like ordinary cigarettes, e-cigarettes also contain chemicals such as nicotine, ultrafine particles, flavourings and heavy metals all of which have long term effects on the health. They are loaded with potentially harmful substances like volatile compounds and cancer-causing agents. However, electronic cigarettes contain comparatively fewer toxins than regular cigarette smoke which contains around 7000 chemicals.
Also, the rate at which nicotine is introduced into the body, the age of first exposure and the dosage of the compound, all plays a key role in determining the potential risk of a person being addicted to it throughout life. So overall electronic cigarettes can be less harmful but not a safe, harmless option.
What are the side effects of e-cigarettes?
There is no doubt that e-cigarettes are packed with harmful substances which increase the risk of health problems. It can impact the brain, heart and lungs.
Nicotine, which is highly addictive in nature, is not only toxic for the developing fetus but also puts the life of pregnant women at risk. It can also affect the brain development in teens and may continue till early 20s.
The ultrafine particles and flavour present in these cigarettes when inhaled can travel deep into the lungs.This can cause bronchiolitis obliterans, also known as popcorn lung, is a condition that causes scarring of the tiny air sacs in the lungs which leads to narrowing of the airway. E-cigarettes are also found to be harmful to the gums and teeth due to the presence of ultrafine particles.
Formaldehyde is a by-product which is produced when e-liquid is heated on the coil. This chemical is categorized as a carcinogen, cancer-causing compounds, and can affect our body negatively at even small doses.
In addition to this, electronic cigarettes have also been found to cause unintended injuries due to defective batteries. It is also reported that people who use e-cigarettes are at a high risk of suffering from a heart attack and double the risk of depression. Moreover, long term use of may cause blood clotting problems and cancer.
Can e-cigarettes help quit smoking?
Although e-cigarettes were marketed to aid in quitting smoking, studies have reported that instead of stopping the person from smoking cigarettes, they tend to continue to use both the products. This in no way can help in vaping and safeguard your health. And this was the key reason for banning e-cigarettes in India. Moreover, e-cigarettes are not currently approved by the FDA as a quit smoking aid.
Bottom line: The health effects of e-cigarettes are similar to those of ordinary cigarettes due to the presence of harmful chemicals such as nicotine, volatile compounds and cancer-causing chemicals. Also, the addictive nature of nicotine does more harm than good when it comes to vaping or quitting smoking. And this was the reason why youngsters were more prone to suffer health problems due to e-cigarettes which led to its banning in the country.
If you are a smoker and looking out for an effective and reliable tool to quit smoking, then get in touch with your doctor to know how to go about it. It is always a good idea to be safe than sorry. Start your journey to quit smoking today!
(The article is reviewed by Dr. Swati Mishra, Medical Editor)
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