Sanjiva Wijesinha -writer and physician

Short stories, Travel and Health Information

To Smoke – or Vape?


There is a new word in the Oxford English Dictionary.

In 2014, ‘Vape’ meaning ‘to inhale and exhale the vapour produced by an electronic cigarette or similar device’ was not only added to the dictionary but was selected as OEDs ‘”word of the year” for 2014.

It is an indication of the growing popularity of electronic cigarettes in the modern era.

Banned in some countries such as Australia, Argentina, Singapore and Brazil, allowed with certain restrictions in places like Denmark and Canada-  and legally available in many countries such as Britain and the US, the consumption of electronic cigarettes (popularly known as e-cigarettes) is steadily increasing worldwide. In the US, which has 45 million tobacco smokers and some of the world’s largest tobacco companies such as Philip Morris and RJ Reynolds, the number of e-cigarette users had reached 3 million by the end of 2015 – and is still rising. E-cigarette sales are expected to surpass sales of standard cigarettes in a few years with the global e-cigarette market expected to grow to US $ 50 billion by the year 2025. Although marketed by companies with exotic names like Blu, Halo and Nutricigs, what is not so well known is that many of these companies marketing e-cigarettes are simply subsidiaries of the big tobacco companies.

What exactly are electronic cigarettes?

Basically, they are tube like devices that contain a tiny battery-powered heater which converts into an inhalable vapour any liquid put into the device. This vapour is then inhaled by the user, just as one would inhale the smoke from a standard cigarette. The devices come in various forms, designed to resemble – and be held by the user just like – a tobacco cigarette.

What many folk who are impressed by the novelty and the marketing hype around e-cigarettes do not know is that the vapours one inhales from an e-cigarette contain a mixture of gases, many of which are toxic to the human body – for example Diethylene Glycol (the chemical used in anti-freeze liquid), Formaldehyde (the stuff used to preserve dead bodies), Nitrosamine (one of the most dangerous cancer-causing carcinogens) and Nicotine (which is the major component of tobacco smoke).

The vapour-producing liquids used in e-cigarettes come in various pleasant flavours – but the pleasing feeling one gets when inhaling is no indication of the toxins and poisons one is inhaling with these flavourings into one’s lungs!

The nicotine inhaled when vaping an e-cigarette is much less than the nicotine inhaled when smoking a standard cigarette – and so e-cigarettes have been marketed as an aid for those who want to quit smoking. Experiments have shown that many smokers who used e-cigarettes to help them give up their addiction to tobacco achieved the same success in quitting as those who used nicotine replacement patches as an aid to quit.

The danger however lies in the fact that e-cigarettes have been attracting non-smokers, especially teenagers, to Vaping – which can induce dependency to low dose nicotine.  Teenagers hooked on to low dose nicotine cn be expected to progress to becoming smokers of higher nicotine yielding tobacco cigarettes.

With falling sales of tobacco in countries like the US and UK, the big tobacco companies are now fighting to preserve their profits by aggressively marketing traditional cigarettes in vulnerable places like India, China and Africa as well as using the novelty and “low nicotine” message to effectively promote and advertise e-cigarettes, thus creating a population of young people addicted to vaping – and in due course, Nicotine.


This entry was posted on September 22, 2016 by in Uncategorized and tagged , , .

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