Persistent use of e-cigarettes badly affects human health: Experts

PESHAWAR  -  The persistent use of e-cigarettes in Pakistani society has exposed the younger generation to serious respiratory, oral and brain issues that may prove fatal in later stages of life.

Besides an increasing possibility of drug addic­tion and long-term dam­age to brain and IQ de­velopment as well as the respiratory system, con­stant use of e-cigarettes along with other tobac­co products can do even more damage to the hu­man’ body than conven­tional cigarette smoking.

“Electronic cigarettes are equally harmful that of conventional cigarettes and their regular use can prove fatal due to threats of lung, oral and mouth cancers,” said Dr Malik Riaz Khan, Principal Med­ical Officer, Government Hospital Pabbi, Nowshera while talking to APP.

Citing reports, he said that about 6.2 per cent of the population used va­ping/e-cigarettes while 15.9 million (12.4pc) used smokeless tobacco. “The young adults, espe­cially college and univer­sity students, when con­sumed these products do not realise the long term harmful impacts of e-cigarettes and at a lat­er stage expose them­selves to serious lung re­lated diseases, nicotine addiction, depression and anxiety,” he said. In recent years, electronic cigarettes or vapes have gained popularity among youngsters and students as a fashionable alterna­tive to traditional tobac­co smoking. Supporters claimed that e-cigarettes are less harmful than conventional cigarettes but the true intensity of the habit is still unknown to the public.

“I started first nas­war, then e-cigarette as a fashion and now conven­tional cigarette due to unemployment and to­day I could not go a day without a vape,” said Sa­jid Khan, an e-cigarette smoker of Pabbi.

“These drugs have snatched my happiness and prestige,” Sajid Khan said, adding my family had left me abandoned af­ter smoking and I felt an­gry at myself when chil­dren started laughing at me due to my ugly attire.

Dr Riaz said every seg­ment of society; non-gov­ernmental organisations and social bodies are on the same page to con­trol the alarming use of e-cigarettes, stressing the need for collective ef­forts to save youngsters from the harmful habit. 

Blue Veins and the Pro­vincial Alliance for Sus­tainable Tobacco Con­trol Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have also urged the pro­vincial government and concerned authorities to remain vigilant of the ma­nipulative ways of the to­bacco industry emphasis­ing the need for concerted efforts to combat these nefarious strategies.

“Governments and civ­il society organisations must remain active and vigilant against third parties and front groups that are working with the support of the tobac­co industry,” stated Sana Ahmad, Programme Co­ordinator of Blue Veins, a civil society organisation while talking to APP.

“These entities are working on the behest and support of tobac­co companies pushing agendas that serve the industry’s interests ig­noring public health. “E-cigarettes often con­tain nicotine, an addic­tive substance that can cause increased heart rate, high blood pres­sure, and negative chang­es in brain function. The phenomena especially concern young people, as their brains are still de­veloping,” she opined.

Dr Qazi Shahbaz, Chairman, the Provincial Doctors Association said that in protecting pub­lic health and prevent­ing a new generation from falling prey to nic­otine addiction and its harmful consequences, we cannot allow the vap­ing industry to undo the progress made in tobac­co control so far.

Inhaling the vapour from e-cigarettes can lead to respiratory problems and some studies suggest that e-cigarette aerosol can irritate the airways and cause inflamma­tion leading to coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath, he said.

Cases of severe lung in­jury associated with vap­ing or e-cigarettes have also been reported. The harmful habit can also cause symptoms such as chest pain, and diffi­culty in breathing and in some cases it can be fatal, he said, stressing a result-oriented plan at a higher level to pre­vent the spread of e-cig­arettes.

Dr Ihtisham, Chest Spe­cialist LRH, said vaping often perceived as a safer alternative to tradition­al smoking, is a grow­ing concern in the med­ical community. There is a lack of convincing evi­dence to support that va­pes are effective tools for quitting smoking, he said and maintained that on the contrary use of va­pes introduces a new set of health risks, including respiratory issues that should not be ignored.

He said that nicotine, even without the com­bustion of tobacco, can have irreversible effects on the cardiovascular system, increasing chanc­es of cardiovascular dis­eases. Aerosol emitted from E-cigarette is not harmless water vapour as it contains various chem­icals including formal­dehyde and acetalde­hyde which are known to be harmful and some of these chemicals are pro­duced during the heating process of the e-liquid.

“Provincial Alliance for Sustainable Tobacco Con­trol Khyber Pakhtunkhwa called for an immediate ban on vapes and e-ciga­rettes in Pakistan. 

The alliance demand­ed aligning policies with recent directives by the World Health Organiza­tion (WHO) which rec­ommended that gov­ernments should treat e-cigarettes similarly to traditional tobacco prod­ucts and enforce a com­plete ban on it for the sake of our future generation.

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