“It all started on a Goa trip with my friends four years ago. My friends asked me to hold a pen-like structure, put it between my lips and gently suck. And that was my first-ever experience with vaping. I really liked it. I am not a smoker though. Since then I do vape twice or thrice a week with natural flavours,” says 28-year-old Hemal Mewada, an Interior Designer by profession.
“I have seen friends who used to have 2-3 packets of cigarettes a day. But after they were switched to vaping these 2-3 packets were cut down to 2-3 cigarettes a day,” he adds. Hemal and his friends have reported positive experiences with vaping, but this is not the case every time. Some reported dry mouth, cough, dry eyes, dizziness, bleeding gums, nosebleeds, high blood pressure and increased nicotine dependence.
What is vaping?
Smoking Kills. Be it anything or in any form.
Smoking an e-cigarette is termed as ‘vaping’. For the uninitiated, vaping is basically an act of inhaling and exhaling the aerosol using a battery-run pen-like apparatus, which usually contains a propylene glycol or vegetable glycerin-based liquid with or without nicotine. Once the liquid comes in contact with the inbuilt device that generates heat, it evaporates and gives out thick puffs of vapour. The liquid contains little to no nicotine in them.
The devices used for vaping include not just e-cigarettes or vape pens but also advanced personal vaporizers. These vape pens look like fountain pens and the kit consists of a battery, cartridge that holds liquid and a heating component. There are different vaporisers to support the vaping of different materials like liquid vaporisers have a cartridge while dry herb vaporiser has a heating chamber. There are also multipurpose vaporisers that allow you to vape different materials just by switching the cartridges. When the device is used the battery heats up the liquid, which turns the liquid into an aerosol which is inhaled and later exhaled by the user. Apart from e-liquids, wax concentrates and dry herbs are also used.
Vaping devices were first introduced in Chinese markets in 2004 as an alternative to tobacco. Since then the industry has grown to a global business with 500 brands and over 8,000 flavours.
Alternative to smoking?
It is like choosing between two evils. It is like replacing one bad habit with another. Whether you are intaking smoke or vapour into your lungs, there are going to be some serious health implications. Switching from cigarettes to vaping can never be an option. Vaping is today seen as an alternative to smoking cigarettes. 27-years-old Ronak, a media professional, started smoking when he was 18 years old. Fortunately, after 4-5 years he was able to ditch the habit. It has only in 2017 when he felt the urge of smoking and this is when he thought of giving it a try. “My only reason to choose to vape was to gradually get rid of nicotine. I use only natural flavours. If you are switching as a means to quit smoking then I may say it is not a suggested option and can sometimes have an opposite effect. The only solution to quit smoking is willpower.”
Smokers choose to vape as an option to smoking while non-smokers opt to it just for an experience or just for fun. But even before giving it a try people should do a complete research on it. “Vaping cannot be an option to quit smoking due to nicotine-based flavours. I once saw some students buying the vaping device and flavours from a local paan shop. Since they were unaware of the availability of nicotine-less flavours they took random nicotine flavours provided by the dealer. I believe if they were aware of the flavours they would have chosen something else,” adds Ronak.
Just a vapour?
It is often claimed the aerosol generated from e-cigarettes are just water vapour but studies have detected the presence of toxic chemicals in it. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has also maintained that there is no evidence that e-cigarettes help to quit smoking. It also says that the intoxicants in e-cigarettes can pose serious hazards. Vaping can increase the risk of high blood pressure and hardens arteries.
Smoking doesn’t have any alternative. In fact, e-cigarettes are more menacing than tobacco cigarettes. “I would urge everyone to understand that e-cigarettes contain pure nicotine. Nicotine is not only highly toxic chemical but also very addictive. At higher dosage (more than 30 mg) it can even cause death by poisoning,” says Dr Pankaj Chaturvedi, Senior Oncologist Surgeon, Head and Neck Cancer Surgery, Tata Memorial Hospital and an anti-tobacco activist.
Since the vaping device does not come under the Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products Act, the companies usually flout important provisions for tobacco control in India. “Indian Government has currently legally allowed nicotine to be sold in a dosage of 2 mg for purpose of cessation. E-cigarettes contain around 10 mg nicotine and have not approved for this purpose. Therefore, I urge everyone to be aware of misleading and illegal promotion of e-cigarettes in India,” adds Dr Chaturvedi. He has also helped enforce a guthka ban in Maharashtra.
No vaping here
Rajasthan government has taken a step forward to ban e-cigarettes in the state. Kali Charan Saraf, Health Minister of Rajasthan, has directed health department officials to test the presence of harmful chemicals in e-cigarettes and impose a ban on its use and sale if any health hazard chemical is found.
The Maharashtra Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has sought the opinion of the state’s law and judiciary department on legal provisions to impose a ban on e-cigarettes. The move comes after FDA stated that the vaping devices cannot be termed as a ‘drug’. In 2016, the regulatory body had sought the opinion of the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) regarding e-cigarettes. In the meeting, the DCGI stated that e-cigarettes would not be controlled under Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940.
So far, Indian states including Karnataka, Mizoram, Punjab, Kerala and Jammu-Kashmir have banned e-cigarettes.
Image source: Vaping360