WHO thwarts our perception of e-cigarettes

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Electronic nicotine delivery systems present in e-cigarettes could be potentially more harmful.

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Published: Wed 28 Jul 2021, 11:33 PM

Smoking is injurious to health. Recall the number of times you have read it on a packet of cigarettes and yet spotted someone or the other smoking their way to happiness. With e-cigarettes, you can see many vaping to happiness. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines e-cigarettes as electronic devices that heat a liquid that contains nicotine and produce an aerosol, or mix of small particles in the air.

While they come in many shapes and sizes, they have a battery, a heating element and a place to hold liquid. A vaper usually inhales the e-cigarette aerosol into his lungs. Others who are breathing in this aerosol exhaled by the smoker also end up passive smoking in the process. While these come in various shapes and sizes, they are mostly battery-operated. Due to the presence of substances as harmful as nicotine, it is not considered safe for kids, teens and young adults.

Despite these basic facts about e-cigarettes, their sales have only gone up higher over the years. Sample this: in the period between November 2016 and August 2019, the sales of e-cigarette units in the US went up by 300 per cent. The pandemic proved to be a turning point as the market witnessed an increase in sales of combustible cigarettes, as many began avoiding e-cigarettes due to an increase in taxes, bans on flavoured products and questions on if they really were safer than the combustible options. Now, a brand-new report by the World Health Organisation has rung alarm bells on the use of e-cigarettes. WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has said that while nicotine itself is harmful, the electronic nicotine delivery systems present in e-cigarettes could be potentially more harmful and must be regulated carefully.

These observations come in the wake of the WHO report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic 2021 which takes stock of new products. It observes that these need to be very closely regulated and their uptake by children and young adults need to be monitored precisely for the aforementioned reasons. If the use of e-cigarettes among the younger population is a cause of concern, it is only because many ENDS manufacturers target them with different flavours, offering it as a substitute to the combustible versions. For the longest time, the confused messaging around e-cigarettes had many believe that it is a ‘safer’ option.

Vaping became the new-age smoking. But as technologies evolve and present a plethora of choices to us, it is not only the governments’ but also individual responsibility to use these products with caution. This is the idea at the heart of the report.

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