Health experts are debating whether vaping could be banned following fears underage smokers are becoming addicted.
According to latest figures from the US, e-cigarettes are now the top high-risk substance used by teenagers despite laws prohibiting sales to those under 18.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is now warning that if the trend continues there could be an outright ban.
The FDA’s commissioner, Scott Gottlieb, said: “I’ll tell you this. If the youth use continues to rise, and we see significant increases in use in 2019, on top of the dramatic rise in 2018, the entire category will face an existential threat.”
“It could be ‘game over’ for some these products until they can successfully traverse the regulatory process. I think the stakes are that high.”
The news comes as it was revealed recently by Blu e-cigarettes that 9% of people looked to switch smoking for vaping as part of their new year’s resolutions this year.
E-cigarettes work by releasing a vapour derived from liquid chemicals, either glycerol or propylene glycol, nicotine and often food-grade flavourings.
In the past e-cigarettes have been marketed as a way to enjoy smoking with fewer of the health risks of traditional cigarettes.
Experts believe one of the main reasons is because e-cigarettes don’t burn tobacco, so should therefore eliminate the risks associated with tar.
Researchers from the University of Athens found that flavourings in e-cigarettes harm the lungs by causing inflammation.
Smokers looking to quit often turn to vaping in the belief that it is better for their health, but analysis, conducted on mice, showed that even in the short-term, the inflammation vaping caused was similar or worse than conventional cigarettes.
Researchers compared several groups of mice that received whole-body exposure to varying chemical combinations four times each day, with every session separated by 30-minute smoke-free intervals.
The results, published in the American Journal of Physiology-Lung Cellular, found that even short term use causes as much or even more damage as the real thing.
Commenting on the findings study co-author Dr Constantinos Glynos said: “Electronic cigarettes are advertised as a less harmful nicotine delivery system or as a new smoking cessation tool. Our findings suggest that exposure to e-cig vapour can trigger inflammatory responses and adversely affect respiratory system mechanics.”
Dr Glynos added: “We conclude that both e-cig vaping and conventional cigarette smoking negatively impact lung biology.”
So just how safe is vaping?
There’s no doubt the advice surrounding the safety of vaping is somewhat conflicted.
According to retailer e-Cigarette Direct vaping is still considered to be safer than smoking. Figures from Public Health England reveal that vaping is 95% safer than smoking because e-cigarettes don’t contain carbon monoxide or tar, the two main ingredients in tobacco, which cause health problems.
The problem is that the nicotine or other molecules found in e-cigarettes can still impact lung health.
A significant number of the flavour chemicals used in many liquids are aldehydes, and, when inhaled these can irritate the mucosal tissue in the respiratory tract.
“Part of the attraction of vaping is the belief that e-cigarettes do not contain any toxic or carcinogenic chemicals. However, rather worryingly, this is false information,” explains clinical hypnotherapist Fiona Lamb, who specialises in helping people with addictions.
“A recent study conducted in the United States found that inhaling the liquids used in e-cigarette vapour can contribute to the development of both lung and bladder cancer.”
Fiona says that the impact of vaping isn’t limited to the lungs either.
“Like traditional cigarettes, it appears that vaping may be having a detrimental impact on other parts of the body other than the lungs,” she explains.
“Research suggests that e-cigarettes can impair the clearance of harmful bacteria, leading to an increased risk to viruses and serious diseases. Not only that, but vaping has a negative effect on our cardiovascular system, which may lead to an increased risk of heart disease or heart attacks.”
While E-cigarettes are freely available in the UK, and US, they are banned or restricted in some countries, including Norway, Brazil, Singapore and Australia.
And with health experts looking to introduce a ban in the US, could the UK follow suit?
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