Vaping continues to pose irreversible dangers for society with new-age gateway products using innovative marketing techniques to lure children and youngsters. In today’s age of information overload and misinformation, it is extremely vital for citizens to have access to credible and accurate information to ensure they do not fall prey to activities promoted by vested interests.
Mothers Against Vaping, a united front of concerned mothers combatting the escalating vaping crisis among our youth, has highlighted 10 major health risks associated with vaping as it seeks to raise awareness about vaping and various health hazards ranging from excessive usage of nicotine to severe lung injury in children.
The first risk it has highlighted is that new-age tobacco devices, unlike typical cigarettes, can result in excessive nicotine intake and these devices enable more prolonged usage sessions.
Secondly, there is a prevalent misconception that the vapours emitted from new-age tobacco devices are harmless, but in reality, these emissions consist of a range of harmful substances, including nicotine, diacetyl, which are linked to severe lung injury. The aerosol produced by e-cigarettes contains particulate matter smaller than 2.5 microns (PM2.5), notorious for its detrimental impact on respiratory health.
The 2019 e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury (EVALI) outbreak in the United States serves as a stark reminder that led to the hospitalisation of numerous Americans, predominantly teenagers and young adults, resulting in enduring lung damage and pulmonary dysfunction for many survivors.
Thirdly, the dangers of New-Age Gateway Devices go beyond just respiratory health issues. E-cigarettes, in particular, harm blood vessels, increasing the risk of heart disease. They are also linked to negative effects on the immune system and reproductive organs.
Fourthly, these devices contribute to environmental issues and consequently harm humans. The components of New-Age Tobacco Devices, including a cartridge, an atomizer, and a battery, contain materials such as metals and ceramics.
Improper disposal of these components contributes to e-waste, posing environmental hazards. For example, e-cigarette batteries can lead to environmental pollution with heavy metals, seeping into the soil and contaminating groundwater, rivers and lakes. This contamination not only harms the environment but also poses risks to human health, with children being more vulnerable than adults.
The fifth health hazard pertains to mental well-being. Peer-reviewed studies have revealed troubling connections between vaping, nicotine and the exacerbation of symptoms related to depression and anxiety. The findings suggest higher chances for individuals to be diagnosed with depression due to their vaping habits.
Sixthly, the chemicals in these products pose a significant risk to oral health, leading to issues like gum disease, tooth decay and oral infections. A study by NYU College of Dentistry in February 2022 found that e-cigarettes alter the microbiome, contributing to gum diseases. The microbiome, a diverse community of bacteria and microorganisms in the gum, can be adversely affected by e-cigarette use, intensifying or causing oral health problems.
Seventhly, using these New-Age Tobacco Products during pregnancy poses serious risks to fetal health, significantly increasing the chances of adverse outcomes such as preterm birth, low birth weight, and developmental complications in newborns.
Eighthly, health hazard is that alternative tobacco products could act as a gateway to more severe addictions like cocaine and heroin. Early exposure and addiction to nicotine through these alternatives might pave the way for individuals, especially young users, to experiment with stronger addictive substances, significantly impacting their overall health and well-being.
Ninthly, nicotine exposure from new-age devices during crucial adolescent brain development can have lasting effects on cognition, attention and impulse control. This not only disrupts learning environments but also hampers the cognitive development of students engaging in this harmful behaviour.
Last but not the least, a crucial health hazard posed by these new-age gateway devices is their susceptibility to malfunctions or explosions, leading to severe risks such as burns, facial trauma and tragically even fatalities for users.
E-cigarette batteries can explode without warning through a process called “thermal runaway”, occurring when the battery overheats, leading to dangerous increases in internal temperature resulting in fire and explosion. Conditions like overcharge, puncture, external heat and short circuits can trigger thermal runaway.
Manufacturers of these devices target children and youth to create lifelong customers. Alarmingly, children aged 13-15 are using e-cigarettes more than adults in all WHO regions. To address this issue, it is essential to actively disseminate accurate information about the genuine risks associated with these products, dispelling any misleading perceptions and ensuring the protection of our children and youth.