Electronic cigarettes: is it really a safe alternative to smoking?

vaping youth

(John Caroro, Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Tahreem Khalid, a student of second year BDS at Army medical college. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


Epidemiological studies, bringing massive  public health services discloses smoking as a greater risk factor to someone’s health than lifetime use of low risk alternative .Science is in a state of flux and evolving rapidly  in an era of revolutions involving use of steam power, electricity, digital technology and computing. Based on rigorous analysis of variation in outcomes and processes, industrial quality experts have developed principles and techniques for quality improvement and health care organizations. The first record of nicotine idea dates to 1963 when Herbert A. Gilbert registered a patent on “Smokers non tobacco cigarettes ’’.

Electronic cigarettes or e-cigarettes, a battery powered device that aerosolize nicotine and produce vapor for inhalation, were introduced in US market in 2007. E-Cigarettes, first marketed in 2004, have spread globally like wildfire.

Based on evidence, cigarette smoking has a heritability index around 53%. Genetic factors and cofactors influence smoking behaviors. According to WHO, 1 billion smokers are present worldwide. Smoking prevalence is about 80% in low and middle income countries and cause 5.4 million deaths per year worldwide. Serving as a risk factor for pathologies, cancer and pulmonary disease, lifelong  smokers has 50% chance of dying prematurely.

Smoking  revolution  and health claims based on smoking cessation that are unsupported by current scientific evidence are frequently used to sell E- cigarettes.

As of January 2014, 446 E- cigarettes brands with their own websites and 7764 unique flavors were identified online. E-cigarettes are rapidly growing internet phenomenon along with online stores, web searches and virtual user communities. 30-50% of E-cigarettes are sold online.

E-cigarettes nicotine delivery system is safe alternative to smoking in following ways ; undermine smoking prevention ,clean air laws and multi-flavors including tobacco, candy or cherry like flavors. Marketers claim benefits; cancer causing chemicals found in tobacco smoke are not found in electronic cigarettes. Unlike cigarette smoking, E- cigarettes contain ingredients that don’t produce nasty ash or damaging secondhand smoke, your breath won’t smell,less coughing and better overall health.

On  March 2011, the European conference on tobacco and health survey showed that 57% population choose E- cigarettes based on cost factor alone. The American Journal of Preventive Medicine showed that 30% of E- cigarettes users quit smoking entirely .Since the early 1990’s,multinational tobacco companies have promoted “ youth smoking prevention” programs as part of Corporate Social Responsibility campaigns.  These programs have met the industry goals of portraying the companies as concerned corporate citizens and undermining effective tobacco control interventions that are required by WHO framework convention on tobacco control.

Smoking cessation leads to development of specific maladaptive behavioral changes with physiological and cognitive behaviors associated with nicotine withdrawal .E- cigarettes fulfil demands of enhanced behavioral or medical interventions. Although E-cigarettes worldwide advertisements is claiming health safety; role of emotional playing with high level of fear and vigilance aroused by realistic quality of experimental situations appear a factor for increased anti-smoking attitudes. Despite that targeted anti-smoking training should be mandatory.

About the author

Tahreem Khalid is currently a student of second year BDS at Army medical college and a member of IFMSA.

 

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