UAE doctors warn of vape addiction among smokers who are trying to quit

Medical experts advise people to get support from their friends, family and specialists for nicotine replacement therapy, for help in quitting the habit


Waheed Abbas

  • Follow us on
  • google-news
  • whatsapp
  • telegram

Top Stories

Image used for illustrative purpose. Photo: File
Image used for illustrative purpose. Photo: File

Published: Thu 27 Jun 2024, 4:24 PM

Last updated: Thu 27 Jun 2024, 7:39 PM

Some of the cigarette smokers in UAE are getting addicted to vaping in a bid to quit smoking.

However, doctors warn that it is a myth that vaping is less harmful than smoking and it helps people quit smoking.

The UAE has strict laws in place for anti-smoking and it is prohibited to smoke in the presence of a child. There are also strict penalties for selling tobacco products to children with fines and imprisonment stipulated in the UAE laws.

Stay up to date with the latest news. Follow KT on WhatsApp Channels.

Anastasia Armali, who started smoking at a young age, switched to e-cigarettes around two years ago in an attempt to quit smoking.

“Whenever I used to smoke cigarettes, I felt chest pain sometimes and shortness in breath. Then, I switched to e-cigarettes as it doesn’t smell,” she said.

The Russian national added that she switched to vaping after seeing some of her colleagues shifting to e-cigarettes.

The UAE resident Ryan Naik switched to vaping two years ago after seeing of his colleagues doing so, also in an attempt to quit smoking traditional cigarettes.

“I plan to quit vaping eventually. However, my immediate goal is to completely stop smoking cigarettes. Once I achieve that, I will focus on quitting vaping altogether,” he said.

Another long-time Dubai resident Adnan Wahidi, who started vaping to eventually quit smoking, aims to quit vaping also “within a year or two.”

Doctors debunk theory

Dr Raiza Hameed, specialist in pulmonology at Aster Clinic, said it is a myth that vaping is less harmful than smoking and it helps smokers quit.

“E-cigarettes create an aerosol that contains nicotine, flavouring and many other chemicals. The vaping liquid is vapourised and organic compounds like aldehydes are released which causes intense damage to the lungs. Preliminary studies have shown that nicotine and other chemicals from vape can stimulate cancer development and growth. The chemicals in the vape lead to chronic inflammation in the lungs which can eventually lead to cancer. It takes a while for the cancer to develop, and we need to follow study subjects over some time,” she said.

Dr Raiza Hameed. Photo: Supplied
Dr Raiza Hameed. Photo: Supplied

She continued: “Vaping also causes other health effects like throat irritation, chronic bronchitis, asthma, headache, anxiety, heart disease, acute lung injury etc.”

Based on her clinical experience, she pointed out that people who start vaping to quit smoking continue vaping for long after they stop cigarettes or eventually go back to smoking. “Vaping as a method to quit smoking is not advisable. Individuals who vape to quit smoking kept vaping after they stopped using cigarettes and they were getting nicotine and other dangerous chemicals. Studies have shown that vaping may make teens more likely to start smoking.”

To quit smoking, she advised people to get support from their friends, family and specialists for nicotine replacement therapy. “Each time you resist a tobacco craving, you are one step closer to being tobacco-free.”

Dr Jamsheer Ambalath Kabeer, specialist pulmonology and clinical lecturer, Thumbay University Hospital, said one significant issue of people vaping is the potential for vaping-associated pulmonary illness (VAPI), which has been reported in individuals using e-cigarettes, particularly those who vape liquids containing substances like vitamin E acetate.

Dr Jamsheer Ambalath Kabeer. Photo: Supplied
Dr Jamsheer Ambalath Kabeer. Photo: Supplied

“Moreover, there are concerns about the long-term effects of inhaling the various chemicals present in vape aerosols, as well as the addictive nature of nicotine, which remains a common component in many vaping products. This is particularly relevant when discussing younger patients, as nicotine exposure during adolescence can adversely affect brain development and increase the likelihood of addiction to nicotine and other substances,” he said.

Lauren Huang, general manager for the Middle East at Elfbar & Lost Mary, said though vaping is not risk-free and contains nicotine that is addictive, it is important not to lose sight that vaping is solely for adults moving away from cigarettes.

“Vaping products are intended as smoking cessation tools. We don't promote vaping to non-smokers or underage individuals and recommend that adult smokers consult with a healthcare professional for guidance before turning to vaping to support their efforts to quit smoking,” Huang said.


More news from Lifestyle