New Delhi: A united front of concerned mothers combatting the escalating vaping crisis among our youth, Mothers Against Vaping, strongly raised the issue about e-cigarettes and other new age gateway products which include Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS), heat-not-burn (HNB), e-hookah and much more. It stressed on the urgent need to understand that through these products the International Tobacco companies are purposefully targeting little children, teens and the youth with the immoral intention of luring them into using new-age gateway devices and securing them as lifelong customers. This predatory targeting of children has also been highlighted by experts globally, and most recently it was raised in discussions in the Scottish Parliament.
Members of the Scottish Parliament have been informed by an Australian Expert Epidemiologist that Vaping or E-Cigarettes predisposes children to smoking cigarettes later in life. Epidemiologist Professor Emily Banks underscored to the Members of the Scottish Parliament or MSPs the concerning and immoral intentions of vaping and tobacco giants to create ‘lifelong customers’ in children and teenagers. Her remarks aligned with growing expert support for a complete ban on disposable e-cigarettes in Scotland.
The Parliamentarians were informed about the easy accessibility of brightly-coloured candy vapes deliberately targeting children, readily available in Scottish shops. The MSPs were briefed about a concerning rise in the use of these devices among schoolchildren in Scotland. Startling statistics revealed that one in ten 13-year-olds and a staggering 25 percent of 15-year-olds were vaping in 2022. Professor Banks emphasized that vaping is significantly restricted for approximately 25 percent of the global population. Interestingly, China has its own stringent restrictions on vaping products, despite being a primary producer of the fruity e-cigarettes prevalent in the UK market.
Mothers Against Vaping has consistently criticized international Tobacco and Vaping companies for deliberately targeting children to establish a consumer base for their addictive and harmful products including all kinds of new-age gateway devices such as e-cigarettes and heat-not-burn electronic devices. Stressing on the critical need for increased awareness, they highlighted on the urgency of educating the public about such intentions of these companies.
Mothers Against Vaping member, Dr. Varuna Pathak, a Former Professor of Gynaecology and Obstetrics at the Gandhi Medical College said, “Targeting children as a future market by tobacco and vaping companies is entirely unacceptable. Our stance against this unethical practice has been validated by global experts. Professor Banks' emphasis on this issue aims to increase awareness among stakeholders, urging for a halt to the advertisement and sale of vaping devices to children.”
“Despite the ban on vaping devices and e-cigarettes in India, their availability is cultivating a generation addicted to these habits, potentially leading them towards tobacco use. It's crucial to debunk misconceptions that paint e-cigarettes as harmless vapor inhalation. Recent research underscores the substantial harm caused by inhaling these substances, posing risks to lung health and impacting various facets of children's development, including cognitive abilities and brain development,” Dr. Pathak added.
Recent studies have provided evidence indicating that the aerosol from new-age gateway devices such as e-cigarettes contains particulate matter linked to mechanisms such as lung inflammation, DNA damage and an increased risk of lung cancer. Experts have highlighted that e-cigarettes and many new age gateway products are reported to contain approximately 900 to 2,000 distinct chemical entities with a substantial number still being unknown. Among the known components, many are recognized as hazardous, raising concerns about the potential health risks associated with e-cigarette and many other new age gateway products.
The ultrafine particles and chemicals found in e-cigarette aerosols possess the ability to deeply penetrate the lungs, posing substantial risks to human health. These aerosols consist of particulate matter smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter (PM2.5), notorious for its adverse impact on respiratory health. Additionally, the vapor emitted by e-cigarettes contains cancer-causing chemicals and heavy metals, including nickel, tin, and lead, further compounding the potential health hazards associated with e-cigarette and other new age gateway products usage.
Dr. Bhavna Barmi - Internationally acclaimed Clinical psychologist, Public Speaker and Head Psychologist at Fortis Escorts Heart Institute said, “In addition to being considered a gateway to lifelong tobacco habits, these new-age gateway devices are fostering a new generation of individuals becoming habituated to these products. This rising trend is not only prevalent globally but also noticeable in India. Similar to the concerns raised by Scottish parliamentarians, our parliamentarians should engage in discussions with experts to ensure that vaping and e-cigarettes do not take root within our country.”
“Recent trends indicate a shift where more young individuals are initiating nicotine use through vaping rather than traditional cigarettes. This presents a significant challenge—a new generation becoming addicted solely through the use of e-cigarettes, which in turn will give rise to various psychological challenges amongst users,” added Dr. Barmi.
According to a recent study conducted by the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), there is a notable trend: more individuals identified as 'never smokers' are engaging in vaping and other new age gateway products compared to established smokers. This shift represents a significant change in the tobacco landscape. The study suggests that these 'never smokers' are inclined towards consistent vaping and are less likely to initiate smoking combustible cigarettes. Notably, the study highlights that within the age group of 18 to 24, a majority—56 percent—of regular vapers have never been regular cigarette smokers. This data hints at a potential trajectory for future e-cigarette and new-age gateway products users.
More than 45 nations which include Australia, Singapore, Thailand, Argentina, Japan, Brazil have implemented e-cigarette bans. In 2019, India commendably banned vaping and e-cigarettes under the Prohibition of Electronic Cigarettes (Production, Manufacture, Import, Export, Transport, Sale, Distribution, Storage and Advertisement) Act. Despite this, Mothers Against Vaping urges for continuous vigilance, warning against complacency. They highlight the risk of e-cigarettes and other new-age gateway products acting as an entry point for children, potentially steering them from vaping to smoking, thereby, fostering a new generation of adult smokers.