Electronic cigarettes are known by different names like e-cigarettes, e-hookahs, hookah pens, vape, vape pens, and mods. Whatever form they may be, electronic cigarettes are composed of: a cartridge with e-liquid (may or may not be nicotine with flavours), an atomizer for heating, a battery, and a mouthpiece for inhaling.
Electronic cigarettes have been making headlines internationally. With the ongoing promotions, propaganda, and even rival political stands on it, there emerges common themes when browsing the news for electronic cigarettes.
The first theme is its increasing popularity among teenagers. More than 2 million middle and high school students were current users of e-cigarettes in 2016. In the United States, teenagers are enticed by advertisements, claims of being healthier than cigarettes, and no known side effects claimed by manufacturers, this is also true for Australia, maybe no to that level (Considering populations difference). Teens reported the following reasons for dripping: to create thicker vapour (63.5 percent), to improve flavours (38.7 percent), and to produce a stronger throat hit—a pleasurable feeling that the vapour creates when it causes the throat to contract (27.7 percent). Electronic cigarettes are seen as an entry point for teens to venture into tobacco related products for smoking.
Another theme is about electronic cigarette effects on health. The internet is swarming with news on the effects of electronic cigarettes to one’s health. Of course, there are two conflicting views on this. On one hand, electronic cigarettes are a lesser evil than tobacco-related cigarettes since the latter have been scientifically proven to be bad for the health and can lead to serious diseases such as lung cancer. Since there are no known side effects, it is assumed that electronic cigarettes are a healthier option.
On the other hand, since some electronic cigarettes also contain nicotine, it can produce the same side effects. Furthermore, since the use of electronic cigarettes is new, there is a lack of medical text on the product. For example, a surgeon general in the United States enumerated ten reasons why vaping is detrimental to your health. First, most electronic cigarettes contain nicotine. Nicotine is addictive and has proven to be bad for the health.
Australia has very strict laws on the import, use and distribution of nicotine. Using e-cigarettes are hazardous during pregnancy. It can affect the development of the baby. The aerosol used as inhaler contains solvents, flavourings and toxicants classified as harmful or potentially harmful.
Aside from nicotine, electronic cigarettes expose the lungs to other substances such as diacetyl, however, most e-liquid producers do not use it, which can cause “popcorn lung,” a severe and irreversible lung disease.
Poisoning can occur but extremely rare when accidentally swallowing the E-liquid inside the cartridge. Those who seek to quit smoking will stop using conventional and medically monitored methods. People who use or who have used e-cigarettes are less likely to stop smoking altogether. Teenagers who use e-cigarettes products are more likely to start using regular tobacco as well. Continued use of nicotine can make other drugs, such as cocaine, more pleasurable. The flavourings, the marketing, and the concept that it is not harmful all tempt teenagers to start vaping. There is concern that these increase the chance that they will smoke conventional cigarettes later. Finally, second-hand smoking is not eliminated by vaping, as vaping releases carcinogenic emissions.
Next are the manufacturers and advertisers of electronic cigarettes. It is interesting to note that most of the electronic cigarettes manufacturers are also companies producing tobacco and/or other related products. Moreover, advertisers promote all the positive aspects of electronic cigarettes, while glossing over its negativities especially those that relate to the health and well-being of users and people receiving second-hand smoke.
Finally, because of conflicting views around electronic cigarettes, there is an international debate on whether it should be regulated. The UK’s Royal College of Physicians (the same agency that confirmed the cancer risk of tobacco in the 60’s) for example, recently advised the UK Government to promote the use of e-cigarettes (along with conventional nicotine replacement methods) “as widely as possible as a substitute for smoking.” On another note, Australian legislators and health sectors wanted to minimize if not forbid the use of electronic cigarettes in their country.
The abovementioned themes of discussions making the news today are touching on the health, the social and political well-being of the manufacturers of electronic cigarettes, its users and its sellers.