Youth misled by vaping, says UAE doctor

‘Nicotine may also impair brain development in adolescents’

Dubai: After the death of a habitual vaper from a mysterious lung illness in Illinois, there has been a shocking disclosure by US public health officials of an increasing number of vape users suffering from respiratory illnesses this summer. The authorities reported 192 cases of respiratory illnesses due to vaping across 22 states in the US.

Many of the patients reported vaping with tetrahydrocannabinol or (THC) the high-inducing chemical marijuana according to reports from the US federal health authorities.

This busts the myth that vaping is a safe way to kick the smoking habit that many e-cigarette supporters have been proliferating.

Health care specialists say that vaping cannot be perceived as a safe option especially since it is bringing into its fold hundreds of first time, young vapers who had never hitherto touched nicotine.

Dr Sreekumar Sreedharan, an internal medicine specialist at Aster Clinic in Karama who is staunchly antismoking/vaping, thinks the act of vaping is misleading youngsters, allowing them to fall into the nicotine addiction trap.

While vaping from e-cigarettes does not involve combustion of paper and release of noxious gases …, the absence of these does not make e-cigarettes any safer.

- Dr Sreekumar Sreedharan | internal medicine specialist at Aster Clinic in Karama

“While vaping from e-cigarettes does not involve combustion of paper and release of noxious gases like carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide and tar, which are carcinogenic, the absence of these does not make e-cigarettes any safer.”

Dr Sreedharan continued: “One must not forget that e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is highly addictive, and chronic nicotine exposure may lead to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Inhaled nicotine increases heart rate and blood pressure and may lead to changes in the brain that increase the risk of addiction to other drugs, especially in young people. Nicotine may also impair brain development in adolescents, leading to attention deficit disorder and poor impulse control. These potential harms of nicotine are particularly worrisome in view of soaring rates of e-cigarette use among teenagers.”

Besides nicotine, the e-liquid contains synthetic flavours and colours.

“Flavoured e-cigarettes often contain a chemical compound called diacetyl, which is associated with a rare lung disease called bronchiolitis obliterans that causes permanent damage to the bronchioles (the tiniest airways in the lungs),” said Dr Sreedharan

Propylene glycol and glycerol, the major components of e-liquids, are not thought to be dangerous on their own. However, they may decompose when heated by the vaporiser, and be transformed into toxic compounds such as formaldehyde. This is more common with newer vaporisers that use high wattages, cautioned Dr Sreedharan

What do e-cigarette contain?

An electronic cigarette contains a cartridge of fluid, popularly known as e-liquid. E-liquid is made up of nicotine and flavourings dissolved in propylene glycol and glycerol. A battery-powered vaporiser superheats the e-liquid, converting it into a mist that is inhaled or ‘vaped’.

Research indicates that vaping comes with its own set of risks and side effects, and many people end up transferring their smoking addiction to a vaping addiction.

- Christine Kunn | Founder of Smoke-Enders Middle East

Christine Kunn, founder of a smoke cessation clinic Smoke-Enders Middle East told Gulf News that smokers who shifted to vaping to kick their addiction found themselves unable to give up vaping.

“Research indicates that vaping comes with its own set of risks and side effects, and many people end up transferring their smoking addiction to a vaping addiction. So in effect, vaping may not be an option for smokers looking to complete get off the smoking bandwagon,” she said.