E-cigarettes have been marketed as the “’healthier alternative” to tobacco cigarettes and also as an easy way to quit smoking. Cigarette smoke contains over 4,000 chemicals, with hundreds of them being known toxins and carcinogenic compounds. E-cigarettes are considered to be healthier as they are smokeless devices; these electronic devices vaporize a flavored nicotine liquid, so that the vapor can be inhaled – often referred to as vaping. Vaping has become popular, especially among Indian millennials and teens who are more willing to try “new and exciting” alternatives to tobacco cigarettes, such as hookah and electronic cigarettes. But how safe are e-cigarettes and what are the health risks of e-cigarettes for teens?
Risks Of E-Cigarettes For Teens
Although it is marketed as a way to quit tobacco cigarettes, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a warning that there is no evidence that e-cigarettes can help smokers kick the butt. WHO officials also pointed out that unlike tobacco cigarettes, e-cigarettes contain “pure nicotine”, which can trigger a heart attack even in younger people. Here’s how vaping affects teens.
1. E-Cigarettes Are A Clear Gateway To Tobacco Cigarettes
“Several surveys and polls have shown that those colorful flavored nicotine e-liquids are appealing to youngsters and as they get used to it, they are more likely to progress to smoking cigarettes”
One of the biggest concerns of health officials is the increased use of e-cigarettes among teens, which suggests that it is not being used as a means to quit smoking. Instead, several surveys and polls suggest that teens and young adolescents move on from e-cigarettes to tobacco cigarettes. The “e-juice” for e-cigarettes comes in a wide variety of flavors, including cinnamon, lychee, lemon, strawberry, chocolate, and caramel cappuccino – each one sounds more delicious and appealing than the next; there’s even a Paan Pasand flavor! This is precisely the problem – these colorful flavored nicotine e-liquids are appealing to youngsters and as they get used to it, they are more likely to want to try the “real” thing and so teens who use e-cigarettes are more likely to start smoking tobacco cigarettes.
2. E-Cigarettes Are Not Necessarily Safer Than Tobacco Cigarettes
“Flavored e-cigarette liquids often contain a variety of chemicals that can affect immune and brain function”
You don’t need to be a health expert to figure out that e-cigarettes are not safe, but the million dollar question is are e-cigarettes safer than tobacco cigarettes? It is not easy to compare the two because e-cigarettes do not contain the same chemicals as cigarette smoke. However, the flavored e-cigarette liquids often contain a variety of chemicals that can affect immune and brain function. They also contain metal nanoparticles from the vaporizing mechanism, which has been linked with irreversible lung tissue damage.
3. Formaldehyde And The Risk of Cancer
“E-cigarette may not be much safer than cigarettes, as the e-liquid in them is known to contain a variety of compounds like formaldehyde, which are known to cause cancer”
Formaldehyde, a known carcinogen, is used to embalm dead bodies, so imagine what it would do to your lungs when you smoke it! A few years ago, formaldehyde came under scrutiny when several Indian women’s hairstyling products were found to have dangerously high levels of this chemical. As e-cigarettes are still a relatively new product, there are fewer restrictions on them and so most e-cigarette liquids contain a cocktail of carcinogenic compounds, such as diethylene glycol (antifreeze). So, the next time you think that vaping is a safe alternative to “cancer sticks”, think again!
4. E-Cigarettes Linked To Teenage Depression
“Studies suggest that there may be a deeper link between e-cigarette consumption and depression, although it is not clear whether vapes cause depression, or depression drives teens to use them”
Researchers found that teens who experience depression and anxiety are 3 times more likely to be “vapers”, as compared to those with no mental health conditions. While the researchers pointed out that this did not prove a causative relationship between e-cigarettes and depression, it suggests that there is a deeper link between the two than previously recognized. If you find yourself constantly blue, it might not be because of your grades or even your break up, it could just be your e-cigarette!
Teens and young adolescents are especially vulnerable to the physical and mental health risks of e-cigarettes, as their bodies have not yet developed fully. Furthermore, the effects of tobacco are well documented as they’ve been studied for almost a 100 years, but e-cigarettes have been in the markets for just over a decade, so we don’t really know much about the long term effects of e-cigarettes. Nicotine is one of the most addictive substances in the world so it’s not worth it to even give e-cigarettes a “try”!
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