Electronic Cigarettes (E-cigarettes): Facts You need to know

What are electronic cigarettes?

Small battery operated devices with delivery mechanisms to deliver nicotine with flavours and other chemicals are known as electronic cigarettes. Electronic cigarettes are also known as vape pens, e-hookahs, hookah pens, or vape pipes. These mimic the traditional cigarettes with tobacco, cigars, etc.

Electronic cigarettes or e-cigarettes deliver vapour instead of smoke from their fillable tanks minus the need for combustion, unlike the regular cigarettes. Electronic cigarettes are the latest advancement in the way towards tobacco harm reduction. Millions of users exist worldwide owing to the increasing awareness about them. Electronic cigarettes could be fast gaining popularity for their capacity to address both the nicotine (physical) and the behavioural aspects of addiction to smoking.

E- cigarettes come in a wide array of assorted shapes and designs like pens, USB sticks, etc.

In the market, there are over 250 brands of e-cigarettes available.  With the vast promotion of them being safer than the traditional cigarettes, which are burnt to deliver nicotine, could be a matter of scrutiny.

Electronic Cigarettes (E-cigarettes) Facts You need to know

How do E-cigarettes work?

E-cigarettes contain:

  • A vapouriser which is a heating device
  • A battery
  • Nicotine is the addictive component present in e-cigarettes. Even nicotine-free labelled contain traces of nicotine
  • Other chemicals and flavouring agents

The vapouriser is activated upon puffing which gives off the vapour from the cartridge. The user then inhales the resulting vapour (vaping).

Can E-cigarettes help in quitting smoking?

The majority of the e-cigarette brands market them as a tool for smokers to quit. But the drug evaluation arm of FDA does not approve e-cigarettes approach to be an effective or safe way to help quit smoking.

Often, the e-cigarette users continue to use e-cigarettes along with the regular cigarettes.

 A study reported 76.8 % of the e-cigarette user were found to continue conventional cigarettes smoking as well.

E-cigarettes are not regulated unlike tobacco products in India for the simple reason they do not contain tobacco; they are readily available and popular among adolescents.  Regulation and restricting access to e-cigarettes have been suggested by experts for reduction of smoking intentions among youth and preventing them trying out cigarettes.

Electronic Cigarettes (E-cigarettes) Facts You need to know

How safe are E-cigarettes from regular cigarettes?

E-cigarettes have been touted as safer alternatives to the regular cigarettes by their manufacturers.  The risks of potentially harmful chemicals being inhaled during the use of e-cigarettes have not been adequately studied. E-cigarettes and regular cigarettes both deliver nicotine. E-cigarettes are claimed not to expose their users to other tobacco smoke related constituents which are projected to be the cause of preventable deaths and disabilities worldwide.

The long-term use and the effects of e-cigarettes have not yet been reported. E-cigarettes are believed to simulate the behaviour of smoking and can tempt the user to try other products containing nicotine. The safety the e-cigarettes has however been questioned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  FDA has issued a warning about the possible health risks associated with the nicotine, toxic chemicals and cancer-causing chemicals present in the e-cigarettes.

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