Are e-cigarettes a safe alternative or something just as bad?
Nowadays, e-cigarettes are becoming popular among Bangladeshi youth -- especially college and university-going students.
In recent years, the rate of addiction to e-cigarettes has been increasing drastically. An e-cigarette is a handheld, battery-powered vaporizer that simulates smoking and provides some of the behavioural aspects of smoking but without the use of any tobacco.
Though the country currently has no proper statistics on how many people are using e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products, adoption of e-cigarettes has been increasing at a fairly high rate, at least visibly.
However, a newspaper report indicated that the prevalence of e-cigarette consumption is increasing very rapidly among university students primarily.
The US’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found that the use of these products and devices among high school going teens increased by 78%, and 48% among middle school students in the last one year. The FDA also found that among middle and high school students, 3.62 million were active users of e-cigarettes in 2018. 81% of the current US youth e-cigarette users cited the availability of appealing flavors as the primary reason for use. Considering the harmful side-effects of e-cigarette consumption, some 30 countries, including Sri Lanka, India, and Thailand, have already banned them.
The government is now considering banning three categories of nicotine products in the country, including e-cigarettes, considering their adverse effect on public health and individuals. The most dangerous effect of e-cigarette is that they contain aerosol, which has been known to cause lung disease.
If anything, e-cigarettes are known to also enhance addiction towards smoking in general, which runs contrary to its popularity as a way to quit smoking traditional cigarettes. There are also other adverse effects of e-cigarette consumption, among them being blurred vision, irritation, increased airway resistance, increased heart rate and blood pressure, chest pain, nausea, and vomiting.
There are far too many adverse effects of smoking e-cigarettes to risk having our youth fall prey to its clutches.
For a young country such as Bangladesh, with a high population of young men and women, it is important to control the consumption of e-cigarettes. According to World Health Organization (WHO) the control measures should be like the MPOWER interventions. The inventions are enlisted below:
• Monitor tobacco use and prevention policies
• Protect people from tobacco smoke
• Offer help to quit tobacco use
• Warn people about the dangers of tobacco
• Enforce bans on tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship
• Raise taxes on tobacco
If we implement the above measures in our country it will be beneficial for us as well as for our country. It is high time the country took necessary steps to stop e-cigarettes from becoming even more of a threat.
When the younger generation can be prevented from adopting harmful habits, they can play a more active role in the development of the country.
Md Billal Hossen is a freelance contributor.