E-cigarette ban: Is vaping as harmless as some think it to be

Studies show that while smoking increases the risk of cancer with time, vaping for just one year can cause serious lung damage and seizures.

Myupchar September 26, 2019 14:01:05 IST
content powered by
E-cigarette ban: Is vaping as harmless as some think it to be
  • E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that produce smoke when inhaled

  • Studies show that while smoking increases the risk of cancer with time, vaping for just one year can cause serious lung damage and seizures

  • While e-cigarette liquid may be relatively harmless, the vaporization process can transform the molecules â�� primarily propylene glycol and glycerol â�� into toxic substances

Last week, the government of India (GoI) introduced an ordinance to ban all kinds of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDs) - including e-hookahs, vapes, vape pens and other smoke-not-burn devices.

(The e-cigarette ban will only come into effect at a future date, if and when President Ram Nath Kovind approves it.)

The announcement has since sparked conversations around the reasons and efficacy of the ban. For example, public intellectuals ask, why ban e-cigarettes but not tobacco products? The world over, bans have also proved ineffective. Arguably, the most famous example of this is the prohibition era in American history.

Ecigarette ban Is vaping as harmless as some think it to be

Representational image. Image source: Getty Images.

In the week since the ban, the conversation around ENDS devices is heating up globally, too. New data and research are emerging every day on the health effects of these products.

Let's take a look at the concerns and the health effects of vapes.

First, the concerns

Vapers Association of India has reportedly opposed the nationwide ban on vapes, calling it an injustice to people who want to quit smoking - vapes were originally advertised as helping aids to wean chain smokers off tobacco. Concerns have also been raised that the ban favours the tobacco industry, which currently employs 4.57 crore people, and is worth Rs 11,79,498 crores.

According to one estimate, ENDS might have grown into a $45 million industry in India by 2014.

Bad as cigarettes are for health, it is also becoming harder to ignore the health effects of vapes. Nine people have died so far due to e-cigarette use in the US. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has opened a criminal case against companies in the e-cigarette supply chain after more than 500 people reported health effects from using ENDS. Though the exact cause of their illness is not confirmed yet, it is being linked to some sort of chemical. The illness starts with coughing and shortness of breath and leads to vomiting, diarrhoea and fatigue.

Various states in the US have proposed a ban on the use of vapes. China banned the sales of vapes last year. Now the government of Canada is set to impose regulations on e-cigarette use.

E-cigarettes versus traditional cigarettes 

E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that produce smoke when inhaled. They usually contain refillable cartridges that contain a liquid with or without nicotine and are marketed as a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes. While nicotine-containing vapes are a popular choice among people who are looking to quit smoking, non-nicotine or flavoured varieties have a distinct fan base of their own among the youth.

The Surgeon General of the United States Public Health Service recently raised concerns about the excessive use of these handheld devices amongst the youth, calling it an e-cigarette epidemic.

Further, studies show that while smoking increases the risk of cancer with time, vaping for just one year can cause serious lung damage and seizures. This is not to say that traditional cigarettes are safe, it just means that vapes show negative effects sooner.

More health effects

The FDA has found high levels of carcinogenic compounds such as formaldehyde in e-cigarettes.

The Indian Council of Medical Research in May 2019 released a white paper that labelled all types of ENDs to be potentially dangerous to health with far-reaching effects on almost every system in the body.

Recent research by the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine shows that even one-time use of flavoured vapes can damage blood vessels and increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

“While e-cigarette liquid may be relatively harmless, the vaporization process can transform the molecules — primarily propylene glycol and glycerol — into toxic substances," said the study's principal investigator Felix W. Wehrli, PhD, a professor of Radiologic Science and Biophysics in a news release.

These compounds are present in almost all flavoured vapes and have previously been found to be airway irritants that cause inflammation with repeated use.

Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health. For more information, please read our article on Smoking Addiction.

Updated Date:

also read

Banning e-cigarettes in India: Govt ignores science, law by opting for complete prohibition instead of regulation
Tech

Banning e-cigarettes in India: Govt ignores science, law by opting for complete prohibition instead of regulation

The ENDS manufacturers, importers and sellers argue that it provides the adult smokers with an option to shift to cleaner nicotine consumption, thereby substantially reducing the health risks associated with combustible smoking.

India joins the bandwagon: Bans e-cigarettes, warns of epidemic among young people
India

India joins the bandwagon: Bans e-cigarettes, warns of epidemic among young people

The Indian prohibition will be imposed through an executive order and will include jail terms of up to three years for offenders.

E-cigarette traders write to state govt chief ministers seeking help against ban
Business

E-cigarette traders write to state govt chief ministers seeking help against ban

In September, the BJP-led central government banned production, import, sale and distribution of e-cigarettes and similar products, citing health risks