WASHINGTON – The e-cigarette (electronic cigarette) or “vaping” is increasingly becoming popular among Filipinos, particularly the youth, as the number of public places that prohibit smoking is increasing and the recent higher tobacco taxes make smoking more expensive.
Recent studies have found that, among adolescents, e-cigarettes provide a gateway toward full-fledged smoking.
In US, an outbreak of vaping-linked severe pulmonary disease has killed six people and sickened hundreds.
Is vaping really safer than smoking? Nobody knows yet.
The e-cigarette is made of plastic and metal device that heat a liquid nicotine solution (e-juice) in a disposable cartridge. It creates a tiny light on the tip even glows like a real cigarette and produces a vapor that stimulates the act of smoking.
Unlike tobacco cigarettes, e-cigarettes don’t “burn.” Therefore e-cigarette smokers are not exposed to the estimated 7,000 chemical compounds in regular cigarettes, and there is no known link between vaping and cancer. The liquids however contain highly addictive nicotine.
There are also a variety other compounds classed as “potentially harmful” according to a 2018 study compiled by the US National Academy of Sciences NAS).
And there is “substantial evidence” that the vapor contains traces of metals, either from the coil used to heat the liquid or from other parts of the device. Some flavorings also contain diacetyl, a chemical linked to a serious but relatively rare lung disease.
While most of existing scientific literature holds that vaping is less toxic than smoking, “the implications for long-term effects on morbidity and mortality are not yet clear,” and would require decades of more data and studies to know for certain, according to the NAS report.
But the bulk of this research was carried out before the current outbreak of severe lung disease in the United States, with more than 450 cases currently under investigation.
The patients’ initial symptoms included breathing difficulty and chest pain before some were hospitalized and placed on ventilators.
Several teens were placed in medically-induced comas, including one who may need a lung transplant if he recovers, according to his doctors.
New York’s health department is focusing its probe on counterfeit cannabis cartridges containing vitamin E oil, which is harmful when inhaled. Federal authorities however have yet to identify a single substance common to all cases.
Some medics have reported seeing patients developed acute lipoid pneumonia, a non-infectious form of respiratory ailment that occurs when oils or fat-containing substances enter the lungs, a potential clue for what is driving the illness.