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Is the vaping industry just blowing smoke?

  • Published at 04:10 pm March 29th, 2018
Is the vaping industry just blowing smoke?
“Smoking kills, but vaping can save your life. Vaping - the road to quitting smoking starts here. Stop smoking, start vaping. E-cigarettes (also known as vapes) are 95% less harmful to your health than normal cigarettes.” These misleading quotes are all over the internet and we seldom give it a second thought whether these widespread information are backed by scientific authenticity or not. It hasn't been very long since e-cigarettes was invented, but it's already gained widespread acceptibility globally. With famous celebrities promoting its consumtion, the adoption of e-cigarettes rose significantly. In fact, the trend has seeped into certain segments of Bangladeshi society as well.

The root cause of these misconceptions

People think e-cigarettes are safe and it is more accepted in the society than regular cigarettes because it is believed to have little or no nicotine in them. However, that is not the case; e-cigarettes are simply unregulated tobacco products. There are over 500 brands which produce over 7,500 flavours, or more commonly recognized as e-liquid, in the market and none of them are evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of USA. There’s no certainty about what is in them or what they are made of. A research found toxic chemicals present in most of these e-liquids and almost all of them contain nicotine, even the ones listed as nicotine free. An inconsistency in the listed amount of nicotine and the actual amount in the e-liquid was also found in research. Even if the e-liquids were safe, it is not the only safety concern while vaping. Vapes are known to explode because of lithium batteries that are used inside them. Lithium batteries, infamous for their use in Samsung’s flagship phone Galaxy Note 7, tend to explode when not properly used. Cheaper vapes do not comply with standard safety practices during production. As a result there is always the risk of these blowing up in your face.
The flavours which are used in the vapes contain a chemical called diacetyl, which has been shown to be associated with a disease called popcorn lung
Vaping is widely recognized as a method of quitting cigarette smoking. While there may be some truth to it, that is not the case most of the times. Firstly, vaping can be as harmful as smoking and most of the times, instead of quitting, e-cigarette smokers tend to continue smoking conventional cigarettes. Smoking e-cigarettes and conventional cigarettes can be five times more harmful than just smoking one type. There are seven FDA approved medications that are safe to use and proven to be effective in helping smokers help quit. When smokers are ready to quit, they should talk to their doctor about using one of those medications. As mentioned before, these misconceptions have led to a tremendous increase in the use of e-cigarettes. Even though it is ensured that it is not marketed to the younger generation, the use of e-cigarettes among middle and high school students had tripled from 2013 to 2015, and has increased more since. With aggressive industry tactics such as cartoon characters on the labels and candy flavours including bubble gum, fruit loop, chocolate and strawberry, it is no surprise that studies found a dramatic increase in teenagers using vapes. Although considered to be safer than the traditionally rolled tobacco, vaping can be deadly especially for these young age groups and it is also a gateway to smoking cigarettes.

Trending, but why?

From the influence of social media and word of mouth, the consumption of e-cigarettes has drastically spread out in certain segments of the society. Before doing proper research or analysis, the consumers are easily convinced that vaping causes no harm to the lungs or the other parts of the body like regular smoking does. Essentially, the vapers hope to eradicate the habit of smoking in the long run. Since e-cigarettes come in different designs, shapes and sizes with a host of different e-liquid flavours, it is automatically very appealing to the young people. The fact that the e-cigarettes is thought to be not harmful or not as harmful as regular cigarettes only helps to tacitly encourage its adoption. In Bangladesh, vaping can be a bit costly than regular smoking. At the same time the fashionability of vaping makes it even more attractive to young adults and teens.

The science behind e-cigarette

Lighting a traditional cigarette causes the tobacco to burn, releasing smoke that contains nicotine. The user breathes in the smoke to deliver nicotine to the lungs. But an electronic cigarette does not rely on this process of combustion. Instead, it heats nicotine liquid and converts the liquid to a vapour, or mist, which the user directly inhales. Depending on the e-cigarette, the user may simply inhale from the cartridge to begin the vaporization process, though some devices have a manual switch that activates the vaporizer inside. E-cigarette users inhale the way they would with a regular cigarette. This inhalation activates the atomizer to heat the liquid in the cartridge and convert the liquid to a vapour. Inhaling this vapour through the mouthpiece delivers nicotine to the lungs, and the user exhales vapour that looks much like a cloud of cigarette smoke and the smoke tends to spread a lot more than the traditional tobacco.

The truth behind e-cigarettes

Vape/e-cigarette companies usually market their products as a safe alternative to conventional cigarettes, but is it actually an alternative to cigarettes? Researchers at the New York University School of Medicine in New York City found that mice exposed to e-cigarette vapour experienced DNA damage in the lungs, bladder, and heart, which could increase the risk of cancer and heart disease. The flavours which are used in the vapes contain a chemical called diacetyl, which has been shown to be associated with a disease called popcorn lung. This chemical makes you cough and you might be experiencing short of breath, permanently. It also contains propylene glycol, glycerine, nicotine, tiny amounts of toxicants, carcinogens, heavy metals, metal nano particles, and other substances - the particles’ names might seem difficult to pronounce, but the simple fact is that all these particles are enough to cause cancers, including lung cancer, stomach cancer, bladder cancer, and esophageal cancer. Other conditions associated with the toxins and chemicals found in vape are heart disease and respiratory diseases like emphysema, which causes difficulty in breathing. However, another research shows that vaping is better compared to conventional cigarette for hardcore smokers. Well, not all e-cigarettes - only the high quality branded ones - this is to be noted and stressed on.