Vaping is highly addictive and is not a 'safe' alternative to smoking cigarettes, experts warn

Most vaping devices involve a nicotine platform. Unfortunately, many adolescents view them as risk-free because they produce no smoke

                            Vaping is highly addictive and is not a 'safe' alternative to smoking cigarettes, experts warn
(Source:Getty Images)

Leading health experts have warned that e-cigarettes could spark a major health crisis in the coming years. According to them, credible evidence shows that using e-cigarettes, commonly known as 'vaping', is highly addictive and can cause horrifying damages to health, a report in the Daily Mail said.

They further add that vaping is a "one-way bridge" to smoking tobacco for people who are easily lured in by the attractive flavours of e-cigarettes. But manufacturers of the gadgets are still marketing them as being "healthier" than actually smoking tobacco.

The Forum of International Respiratory Societies wants flavorings banned as part of tougher restrictions on vaping products, says a panel of lung experts from the organization. The panel also demands that areas and parks outside schools must be declared "vape-free zones". The group of researchers conducted a plethora of experiments before reaching the said conclusion.

The popularity of e-cigarettes has risked normalizing smoking again and undoing years of progress in public health, according to Dr Tom Ferkol, who is a co-author of the report from Washington University in St Louis. He said: "These products are normalizing smoking and leading to new generations addicted to nicotine. It's not merely the risk of the e-cigarettes, it's possible these products are introducing the next generations to tobacco, something that we've tried to avoid and with some success over the years."

Health officials across the globe have been promoting the use of e-cigarettes as a safer alternative to tobacco. Currently, over 3 million people in Britain use e-cigarettes under the illusion of safety.

A liquid containing nicotine is converted into vapor by a heating coil that is powered by a battery, and the fumes are then inhaled by the user. Around one in ten secondary school pupils in the United Kingdom have admitted to having tried vaping, as the number of adolescents trying the "alternative" increases every day.

Having said that, medical authorities have also opined that the long-term effects of smoking e-cigarettes are relatively less known. While the synthetic flavorings are purportedly dangerous, previous studies have further linked vaping to heart disease, lung conditions, and even cancer.

Dr Ferkol added: "If you look at the evidence on why teenagers and children use e-cigarettes, there are three common reasons – curiosity, flavoring and low-perceived harm. With all the flavorings, such as strawberries and cream, you can easily see why children are attracted to them. And when you look at the advertising on some products, it doesn't look like it's targeted at a 55-year-old gentleman from Liverpool to help him quit."

A lung specialist at the University of Cape Town, Dr Aneesa Vanker, said that many a time, the legislation on the minimum age for purchasing e-cigarettes is not enforced.

"There is growing evidence that nicotine has many acute and long-term adverse effects, including addiction. Young people are at particular risk for this," she said. "We want local, national, and regional decision-makers to recognize the growing public health threat that e-cigarettes pose to children and adolescents. Inhaling something other than air is never good for a child's lungs."

On the other hand, the regulations on e-cigarettes in the UK is among the most stringent in the world. These rules constitute safety standards, labeling requirements, packaging, a minimum age for sale, as well as a ban on almost all forms of advertising, according to Rosanna O'Connor from Public Health England.

Peter Hajek, a professor from the tobacco research unit at Queen Mary University of London, said: "If regulators acted on the recommendations made here and banned e-cig flavorings, they would risk pushing some of the millions of vapers from the much safer alternative back to smoking, emphysema and lung cancer."

The said warning on e-cigarettes has been published in the European Respiratory Journal.

Dr. Russell Hyken wrote a piece for Ladue News about the dangers of vaping and how to tackle them. He says: "Most vaping devices involve a nicotine platform. Unfortunately, many adolescents view them as risk-free because they produce no smoke. Anytime teens ingest nicotine with frequency, though, they’re stunting their cognitive growth and contributing to a potential addiction that could last a lifetime, as the developing adolescent brain becomes conditioned to seek the damaging chemical.

"If you suspect your teen is vaping, parents, ask him or her if that’s the case. Then, if so, start a conversation instead of lecturing on the dangers of e-cigs. (When adults criticize, most adolescents automatically dismiss the parental viewpoint because of negative presentation.) As part of the conversation, share facts and educate your child about the health hazards of vaping, thereby encouraging her or him to make an informed decision."

Also, a recent study conducted by Johns Hopkins University found “high levels of toxic metals” in the liquid that constitutes the vape aerosol.

Baylor University Medical Center's Dr Howard Wang says these metals are highly detrimental to one's health. “These are things that you are not supposed to be inhaling and have been associated in studies with abnormal immunologic responses and the potential for cancer," he said.

During a conversation with CBS News, Dr Casey Sommerfeld, a general pediatrician at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, said: "The long-term effects of vaping are still unknown due to the relative newness of the product. There are a few case reports involving adults that developed respiratory distress following electronic cigarette use, and I suspect we will see more if the use of electronic cigarettes continues to be popular."