What Are E-Cigarettes?
- An E-cigarette is a form of electronic nicotine delivery system(ENDS). These are devices which don’t burn like typical cigarettes and don’t use tobacco leaves. Instead, a vapour is released from them which is inhaled by the user.
- E-CIGARETTES are sometimes called as “e-cigs”, “vapes”,” e-hookahs” and “vape pens” etc. Some E-cigarettes look like regular cigarettes, cigars, pipes, pens, USB drives, and other everyday items.
E-Cigarettes aerosol contains harmful compounds like:
- Propylene glycol
- An ultrafine particle that can be inhaled inside the lung
- Flavouring substance such as diacetyl (substance causing serious lung diseases )
- Volatile organic compounds
- Cancer-causing chemical
- Heavy metals such as nickel, tin, lead.
Constituents inside a cigarette are?
- A cartridge, which holds the liquid solution which in turns contain different amount of nicotine, flavouring substances and other chemicals.
- A heating element also called as atomizer.
- Mouthpiece(used by person smoking)
- A microprocessor to control the amount of heating.
How do E-CIGARETTES works?
- The battery heats up the circuit which in turn heats up the nicotine and other substance present in the E-Cigarettes. stronger the voltage and the current, faster will the solution heats up and more effective will be the instrument.
- The user, in turn, inhales the vapours produced by the E-Cigarette.
- Further according to WHO report factors such as “length of puffs”, depth of inhalation and frequency of use etc may affect how nicotine is consumed using E-Cigarettes.
Concerns for e-cigarette includes:
- An E-cigarette contains nicotine which is both addictive and toxic for human beings.
- E-cigarette harm adolescent brain development, due to harmful aerosols released from it. They stimulate the central and peripheral neural system(CNS and PNS) and leads to brain malfunctioning.
- Aerosols contain chemicals that are harmful to the lungs and other body parts. Diacetyl can cause “popcorn lung”, a severe and irreversible lung disease.
- WHO report says” it can have adverse effects during pregnancy and may contribute to cardiovascular disease”. An E-cigarette also contains cytotoxic substances, which harms pregnant women both directly and indirectly. Also, there may be chances of disease and underdevelopment of foetus.
- There are fewer chances of E-Cigarettes preventing passive smoking.
- According to some researches the ability of lung cells to regenerate after smoking E-Cigarettes reduce considerably, making the body prone to many other diseases.
- Some chemicals present in e-cigarettes are capable of causing DNA damage and mutagenesis.
- According to a report by WHO, the main health risk from nicotine other then through inhalation is nicotine overdose by ingestion or dermal contact.this can also lead to nicotine poisoning.
E-Cigarettes and potential benefits associated with it?
- E-Cigarettes are less harmful then regular cigarettes. As they contain fewer toxic chemicals than the deadly mix of 7,000 chemicals in smoke from regular cigarettes. they don’t have tar and carbon monoxide like traditional cigarettes because combustion, which produces these toxic substances, doesn’t occur.
- According to some researches, E-Cigarettes are helpful for an adult in quitting smoking. (but still, much research haven’t been done and the effectiveness of ENDS as a method to control smoking hasn’t been proven yet.)
The method suggested by the WHO report on ENDS in the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in COP 6:
When designing a regulatory strategy for ENDS, governments should bear in mind the following general regulatory objectives:
- keep a check on the advertisements attracting consumers especially young ones for E-cigarette smoking.
- Minimize health risk to both ENDS users and non-users.
- prohibit unidentified health claims about ENDS.
- protect existing tobacco-control efforts from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry. (e.g. tobacco industry lobby in India)
- ENDS or E-cigarette related health warning should reflect the health hazards associated with these smoking methods.
Stand of Government of India?
- India is a signatory to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Contro which was brought in response to the serious problems associated with tobacco products worldwide.
- Government of India has banned the sale, storage and manufacturing of e-cigarettes in country. ( On July 10, 2019, the central government informed Parliament that e-cigarettes worth $ 1,91,781 were imported in India between 2016-16 and 2018-19).
On execution of Prohibition of electronic cigarettes (production, manufacture, import, export, transport, sale, distribution, storage and advertisement)Ordinance,2019, the following provisions will become applicable:-
- Any production, manufacture, import, export, transport, sale(including online sale), distribution, storage and advertisement (including online advertisement ) of e-cigarettes in India shall become a cognisable offence.
- This will be punishable with an imprisonment of up to one year or for a fine up to Rs one lakh for the first offence.
- In the case of second-time offence, the punishment would be imprisonment up to three years and a fine up to Rs five lakhs.
- Also, those who are found to be storing the e-cigarette will be punished with imprisonment up to 6 months or fine up to Rs 50,000 or both.
- In case of someone having existing stock of the e-cigarettes will have to declare and deposit it with the nearest police station on their own before the ordinance comes into effect.
- Note:- the definition of e-cigarette does not include any medical product licensed under The Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940.
Rationale behind the banning of the e-cigarette in India:
- Both the WHO and Indian Council of Medical Research(ICMR) have highlighted the negative health impacts associated with the e-cigarette such as cardiovascular and respiratory impairments.
- According to the Global Adult Tobacco survey 2016-17, the tobacco consumption in India declined by 6% from 2009-10. The ICMR states that the introduction of products like e-cigarettes which till now haven’t shown any proven results of reducing smoking addiction may harm the progress made till now.
Way forward: there is a need to ensure proper research to ensure that the use of ENDS doesn’t become a larger threat then existing smoking methods. Further guidelines of WHO needs to be followed until the final results of the research are out.
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