E-Cigarettes – Not A Healthy Alternative

E-cigarettes encourage former smokers to return to their tobacco habit and play a part in “recruiting” new smokers, says Prakit Vathesatogkit, executive secretary of the Action on Smoking and Health Foundation Thailand.

“Using e-cigarettes may be a prelude which leads to people to smoking [tobacco] cigarettes. Health studies conducted in the US report that e-cigarettes even encourage former smokers to take up the habit again,” Dr Prakit said.

He cited a study published this month in Public Health Reports, a US-based health magazine, which indicated that e-cigarettes are not a healthy alternative and do not help people quit traditional smoking.

The 2013-2015 study of 26,446 former smokers showed many would take up their old habit after smoking e-cigarettes.

Interest groups are currently lobbying the Thai government to lift a ban on e-cigarettes that was imposed in 2014.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha recently insisted the ban will remain in place.

Once championed as a healthier alternative to traditional smoking, e-cigarettes have been the focus of negative health reports recently.

The US has seen 193 cases of severe lung illness potentially associated with e-cigarette use since the end of June, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

E-cigarette users are not exposed to the estimated 7,000 chemicals, about 10% of which are carcinogens, contained in tobacco cigarettes. As such, vaping is generally believed to be safer than smoking.

The liquids in e-cigarettes do, however, contain nicotine, which has been studied for decades, and is known to be a highly addictive carcinogen.

They also contain a variety of other “potentially harmful” ingredients, according to the US National Academy of Sciences.

E-cigarettes are devices that heat a liquid into an aerosol that the user inhales. The liquid usually has nicotine and flavoring in it, and other additives. The nicotine in e-cigarettes and regular cigarettes is addictive. E-cigarettes are considered tobacco products because most of them contain nicotine, which comes from tobacco.

Besides nicotine, e-cigarettes can contain harmful and potentially harmful ingredients, including:

  • ultrafine particles that can be inhaled deep into the lungs
  • flavorants such as diacetyl, a chemical linked to serious lung disease
  • volatile organic compounds
  • heavy metals, such as nickel, tin, and lead