Basically, e-cigarettes are devices that heat a liquid which usually has nicotine and flavoring in it, into an aerosol. Besides nicotine, e-cigarettes can contain other harmful ingredients such as ultrafine particles, flavorants, volatile organic compounds, and heavy metals.
CMAJ released a one-page overview for clinicians, which contains 5 brief pieces of information to know about the usage of e-cigarettes. Here are those 5 points in the article.
1. E-cigarette usage in Canada is increasing, especially among young people
The usage of e-cigarettes by Canadians aged 16-17, increased from 29.3% in 2017 to 37% in 2018. Also, with the rise of the use of JUUL (an e-cigarette type with high nicotine concentration), the prevalence and frequency of vaping increased among people who never or occasionally smoke.
2. E-cigarette usage is associated largely with the initiation and ongoing use of cigarette smoking
According to the current evidence, among people between the ages of 14-30 years, nonsmokers who use e-cigarettes are 3 times more likely to start smoking cigarettes. For every 6 nonsmokers who use e-cigarettes, 1 of them will start smoking cigarettes.
3. E-cigarettes are additional tools that help to quit smoking
A piece of evidence provided by a recent randomized clinical trial shows that e-cigarettes are indeed effective smoking cessation tools.
4. E-cigarettes are unregulated products and it's possible that they have some dangerous effects on health
Since they are relatively new, it's expected that long-term, direct health risks caused by using e-cigarettes will take many years to become apparent. But it's already known that nicotine is highly effective. Also, recent findings show that being exposed to e-cigarettes may result in serious pulmonary effects.
5. Clinicians should ask and talk about the usage of e-cigarettes
Consistent with the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care recommendations, the evidence regarding the effect of e-cigarette use on the initiation of smoking, should lead physicians to consider counseling nonsmokers on this and other health risks of e-cigarettes appropriately.
Also, since there are people who have used e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation aid successfully, physicians should support the cessation of e-cigarette use, considering the current epidemic of pulmonary illnesses which are vaping-related.
So, usage of e-cigarettes may seem innocent but it should be remembered that it contains nicotine which is highly addictive and harmful for people.
E-cigarette use is becoming more and more popular among young people, but since the brain development continues until the age of 25, the use of e-cigarettes, because of the nicotine and other harmful ingredients they contain, can cause addiction and harm in the development of the brain during adolescence and young adulthood.
Therefore, e-cigarettes are better if they are used only for the cessation of smoking cigarettes since they can actually help in this case. But, after successfully quitting smoking, e-cigarette usage should be stopped too. After all, it has no difference from cigarettes in terms of harms it does to people.