E-cigarettes: Smoker’s friend or foe?

Are e-cigarettes a healthy alternative to tobacco cigarettes?


August 25, 2018

/ By / New Delhi

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Recently, the Delhi government decided to take steps for banning e-cigarettes in the state but the jury is still out on whether they are harmless or harmful.

Following a recent hearing in the Delhi High Court regarding the ban on e-cigarettes in the state, a debate has stirred up whether it is the right choice or not.

For a long time, health advocates, state attorney generals and a host of others have fought to reduce the use of cigarettes among the young generation, who are likely to get addicted to nicotine. E-cigarette is a battery-powered device that heats up a liquid to produce a vapour that resembles traditional cigarette smoke and it looks like a sleek USB flash drive.

According to the Council for Harm Reduced Alternatives (CHRA), a national tobacco harm reduction organisation, the ban on e-cigarettes would deprive millions of smokers of a safer choice and cause damage to public health. According to some, e-cigarettes are not only less harmful compared to tobacco cigarettes but also help smokers wean off the nicotine dependence and are touted by some as a safe way for adults to quit smoking cigarettes.
When vaping, e-liquids are heated and inhaled with a reusable tool and since it doesn’t contain tar, it’s considered less carcinogenic. Also, it is believed that vaping poses far lower risk to bystanders than passive smoking.

However, others argue that there are less addictive methods present in the market to get smokers to quit, like nicotine patches, gum and lozenges.

Samarth Goyal (29) from Delhi, has been smoking cigarettes for the past 10 years and shifted to e-cigarettes for the purpose of quitting tobacco cigarettes. “It was of no use. I barely felt that I didn’t need to smoke the regular cigarette after I started smoking the e-cigarette, and I invariably found myself smoking the electronic version inside the office premises/theatres/malls and smoking the regular cigarettes in open spaces. E-cigarette just got me addicted to it instead of helping me get over the tobacco ones,” he tells the Media India Group.

E-cigarettes also pose a number of health risks, like insomnia, anxiety, a heightened risk of hypertension, cardiovascular disease, complications in pregnancy and lower sperm count. Because enough research hasn’t been done regarding vaping, it is difficult to gauge the extent of its negative effects.

Regions like Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh have already declared e-cigarette as an ‘unapproved drug’ under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1945. Further, states like Karnataka, Maharashtra, Mizoram, Jammu & Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have now banned their manufacture, distribution and sale.

On the one hand, banning e-cigarettes could avoid certain health complications among the young generation; while on the other hand, completely banning the technology, while selling normal cigarettes, may take away a possible smoking-cessation aid.

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