E-cigarettes, often seen as responsible for a decline in cigarette smoking among the youth, are likely to be banned in Maharashtra after perceived health risks from the liquid nicotine were flagged in various studies.
According to a report in The Indian Express, the state health department has directed the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to stop the distribution and use of e-cigarettes.
Electronic cigarettes were first introduced to the market in 2003 and health officials have been tracking usage and studying potential health effects. They have been available in Indian market for almost 10 years now.
Most e-cigarettes contain a battery, a heating device, and a cartridge to hold liquid, which typically contains nicotine, flavourings, and other chemicals. The battery-powered device heats the liquid in the cartridge into an aerosol that the user inhales.
While researchers thought that e-cigarettes can be an effective tool to help those battling cigarette addiction, studies show that they are actually attracting a new population of adolescents who might not otherwise have smoked tobacco products, researchers warned.
Several previous studies have reported that adolescents who start with e-cigarettes are more likely to subsequently smoke traditional cigarettes.
According to researchers, they did not find any evidence that e-cigarettes have caused youth smoking to decline. In fact, combined e-cigarette and cigarette use among adolescents in 2014 was higher than total cigarette use in 2009, they stated.
"The study didn't find any evidence that e-cigarettes are causing youth smoking to decline," added Lauren Dutra, social scientist at RTI International — a not-for-profit research organisation based in North Carolina, US.
For the new study, the team examined survey data from more than 140,000 middle and high school students who completed the CDC's National Youth Tobacco Survey between 2004 and 2014.
Meanwhile, another study revealed that the vapours which are produced after e-liquid flavourings are heated inside e-cigarettes, are toxic. According to a study, reported in the ACS journal Environmental Science and Technology, when e-liquid flavourings are heated inside electronic nicotine-delivery systems, the flavourings break down into toxic compounds at levels that exceed occupational safety standards.
The researchers analysed vapours created from both unflavoured and flavoured e-liquids loaded into three popular types of e-cigarettes.
The results showed that in general, one puff of flavoured vapour contained levels of aldehydes exceeding the safe thresholds for occupational exposure — set by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists — by factors of 1.5 to 270. Vapours from unflavoured e-liquids contained aldehydes at significantly lower levels.
Another report, published by professors at University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry in the US, have found that these e-cigarettes are as equally damaging to gums and teeth as conventional cigarettes.
Previously, scientists thought that the chemicals found in cigarette smoke were the culprits behind adverse health effects, but a growing body of scientific data, including this study published in the journal Oncotarget, suggests otherwise.
"How much and how often someone is smoking e-cigarettes will determine the extent of damage to the gums and oral cavity," Rahman said.
The study, which exposed 3-D human, non-smoker gum tissue to the vapours of e-cigarettes, also found that the flavouring chemicals play a role in damaging cells in the mouth.
"We learned that the flavourings — some more than others — made the damage to the cells even worse," Fawad Javed from University of Rochester Medical Center added.
"It's important to remember that e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is known to contribute to gum disease," Javed said.
What makes matters worse is the fact that people are usually unaware that liquid nicotine can be equally addictive.
If the suggested ban on sale in Maharashtra is put in place, the state will become the second in India after Punjab to have outlawed the device. The ban comes in the light of the fact that liquid nicotine is still not a registered drug in India, and therefore its sale and use goes unregulated in market.
With inputs from IANS
Updated Date: Jun 07, 2017 15:45 PM