In recent times, the vaping bandwagon seems to be attracting a lot of attention from teens all across the globe. Vapes or e-cigarettes are electronic or battery-operated devices, which is an alternative to cigarettes; the device aerosolizes liquids to release nicotine and other toxic substances, which can be found in a number of flavors ranging from fruity flavors to marijuana. This is what entices teens to try out vapes, the plethora of flavors, including- bubblegum, grape, watermelon, strawberry, etc.
The device is actively being normalized by affluent teens and now is a prop they carry everywhere with themselves. Vaping exposes the lung to a variety of chemicals, including the main active substances in tobacco (nicotine) or marijuana (THC), flavorings, and other ingredients that are added to vaping liquids; additionally, other chemicals can be produced during the vaporizing process. “If the liquid has nicotine in it, then the user is inhaling nicotine along with the other ingredients in the liquid,” explains Dr. Thomas Eissenberg, an expert on tobacco research at Virginia Commonwealth University.
Even though considered safer than traditional cigarettes, vapes aren’t safe. E-cigarettes contain a large dose of nicotine, a substance known to slow down brain development in fetuses, children, and teens. Furthermore, vaping also deliver toxic chemicals like diacetyl, cancer-causing chemicals, heavy metals, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). According to researchers, our lungs aren’t meant to deal with the constant challenge of non-air that people inhale, sometimes as many as 200 puffs a day. “The problem is that while the Federal Drug Authority (FDA) monitors the nicotine content, the toxic flavors fall through the cracks”, says adolescent health educator Dr. Safala Shroff.
Vaping has been banned in India for over three years now, following directives issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Despite the ban, the device is still in extensive use, with nearly a third of the country’s population dependent on some form of tobacco, leading to 14 lakh deaths.
Parents and other adults are often unaware of the extent to which vapes are in use by their children due to their smokeless and odorless features. Thus, the only way this habit-forming device can be kept in check is by increasing awareness about the never-ending list of ill effects it can possibly have and cutting off the means by which teens can get access to it.