Sunday Dec 10, 2023

Vaping Hazards: Why E-Cigarettes Pose Significant Health Risks

DID you know that over eight million people worldwide die annually from tobacco-related diseases? Shockingly, over 80 per cent of the 1.3 billion tobacco users reside in low- and middle-income countries. The economic impact of healthcare costs and lost productivity due to tobacco usage tops $1 trillion annually. While smoking has decreased significantly over the past three decades, new and emerging tobacco products have gained popularity worldwide since 2014. One of these products is the electronic cigarette, also known as ‘e-cigarette,’ ‘vape,’ ‘e-hookah,’ ‘vape pen,’ or ‘electronic nicotine delivery system.’ These devices are advertised as a safer, more convenient and more cost-effective solution for smoking or quitting compared to traditional cigarettes.

The global e-cigarette market for electronic cigarettes has experienced a surge in size as more people seek alternatives to conventional tobacco products. The amount increased from just $50 million in 2005 to over $21 billion in 2022. According to Euromonitor International, the global e-cigarette market size was valued at $26.76 billion in 2022 and is expected to reach $50.16 billion by 2028, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.39 per cent during the forecast period (2023–2028).

In contrast, the global tobacco market was valued at $849.09 billion in 2020 and is projected to grow at a CAGR of 1.8 per cent from 2021 to 2028. North America dominated the global e-cigarette and vape market in 2022, accounting for the maximum share of more than 44.10 per cent of the overall revenue. However, Asia Pacific is expected to witness the fastest growth rate due to increasing disposable income levels and rising demand for innovative products.

E-cigarettes are not harmless and pose significant risks to public health, especially for young people. However, not everyone is happy with this trend. Many countries are imposing restrictions on e-cigarettes because of concerns about the growing number of children, young people, non-smokers, and individuals who do not require vapes being attracted to them. They also raise worries about their effects on health and the environment.

Background of e-cigarettes

E-CIGARETTES are electronic devices powered by a battery. They contain a heating coil that heats a mixture of nicotine, glycerine, and flavourings called e-liquid. This produces an aerosol that users inhale through a small mouthpiece. According to Britannica (2021), the electronic cigarette was invented in 2003 by a Chinese pharmacist named Hon Lik, who wanted to provide a safer way to smoke after his father died of lung cancer. Although there have been earlier attempts to create similar devices, such as the electric vaporiser patented by Joseph Robinson in 1927 and the smokeless non-tobacco cigarette patented by Herbert Gilbert in 1963, their goal is to help people quit smoking safely. While traditional cigarettes burn tobacco, producing tar and carbon monoxide, which can cause deadly health problems, vapes do not contain tobacco and do not produce smoke. Instead, they use an innovative electronic heating method that only generates vapour. The three main types of e-cigarettes are disposable, rechargeable, and modular.

Why are e-cigarettes gaining traction?

FOR those who are new to e-cigarettes, all the terminology can be overwhelming. With so many liquids, devices, pods and atomisers, it is easy to get lost. You may have noticed that e-cigarettes look nothing like traditional cigarettes. Instead, they often have trendy, sleek designs that resemble highlighter pens or tech gadgets, making it easy to keep hidden in plain sight. Despite their varying appearances, they all work the same way.

The variety of e-liquid flavours is a big draw for many e-cigarette users, especially young people attracted by appealing flavours and social media trends. That is one of the main reasons they keep coming back for more. There are nearly 16,000 e-liquid flavours on the market, with an e-liquid equivalent for almost any food flavour you can think of, including cotton candy, bubble gum, chocolate cake and mango. However, unlike food products, e-cigarettes are not required to disclose their ingredients, so most labels remain vague. This raises the question: what exactly is inside e-liquid.

Dylan Barnes

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