Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) has called on governments worldwide to classify e-cigarettes as tobacco products and ban all flavors. The day after this call, health experts in India urged the government to take immediate action. This appeal includes a plea to the public to quit smoking. While some view e-cigarettes, also known as electronic vaporizers, as potential tools to mitigate the adverse health effects of traditional smoking, the WHO insists that “urgent action” is needed to control the growing use of e-cigarettes.
A concerning trend has emerged in India, as an increasing number of 13-15-year-old youngsters are using e-cigarettes, surpassing even the usage among adults. This indicates the adoption of aggressive marketing strategies to target the younger demographic.
According to Dr. Vijay Dutt, an internist and pulmonologist at the Indian Spinal Injuries Center (ISIC), “There is ample research and sufficient evidence to suggest that e-cigarettes also pose health risks and affect the lungs. While they may help tobacco smokers quit, they are harmful to health and may lead to nicotine addiction, particularly among non-smokers, especially children and young people.”
These experts stress that e-cigarettes cannot replace smoking tobacco. With over 8.67 million deaths attributed to tobacco use annually, this underscores the urgency to address this public health crisis.
Dr. Soumya Mukherjee, a consultant, BMT, hematology, and blood oncology expert at Narayana Hospital, stated, “Strict measures are crucial, and a comprehensive ban may be the most effective solution. This includes prohibiting all flavors, such as mint, and applying tobacco control measures to e-cigarettes.”
The World Health Organization has stated that while the long-term health risks of e-cigarettes are still unclear, they produce substances known to cause cancer, pose risks to heart and lung health, and may potentially affect the brain development of young individuals.
Smoking tobacco in India is a major risk factor for premature death, experts emphasize the urgency of addressing this issue, stating that tobacco use is one of the unhealthy behaviors contributing to preventable burdens such as cancer, stroke, and heart disease.
Dr. Nehal Shah, a pediatrician at Mumbai’s SRCC Hospital, said, “Inhaling nicotine through e-cigarettes can harm the developing brain, affecting memory, attention, and impulse control. Nicotine is highly addictive, and early exposure increases the risk of addiction later in life.”
Dr. Shah emphasizes the importance of educating young individuals about the risks associated with nicotine and e-cigarettes, raising awareness to prevent the adoption of this harmful habit, and safeguarding the well-being of future generations. Taking action to prohibit all forms of smoking is imperative.