Are we overexaggerating the vaping crisis?

woman vaping

Whether vaping or e-cigarettes are harmful or not has always been a matter of debate. Many people prefer it over the normal cigarettes owing to its claim to be 95% less harmful, while there are many others who dislike it or just prefer cigarettes. Nevertheless, until now its market had been growing at such an exponential rate that some experts even began speculating that by 2023 vaping might become more popular than traditional cigarettes. However, owing to the recent vaping-crisis, this doesn’t seem to be the case now.

The Vaping Crisis

cartridge with toxically high THC contentRecently, news came out for the US that around 1000 cases of a mysterious vaping-related disease had come up, which resulted in around 23 deaths. The actual cause behind the disease was unknown, apart from the fact it was related to vaping. However, as of now, there has been no conclusive evidence about what actually is causing the harm. Some theories suggest that the main cause behind the illness was cartridges bought from black market. In fact, even a study has come up with the results that in almost two-third cases ‘Dank Tapes’ was involved, which is a little-known cartridge manufacturer that is said to sell the cartridges with toxically high THC content.

Amidst all this, while making the quality control stricter might have been the better thing to do, President Trump is contemplating a ban on the flavors used in e-cigarettes. He is doing this stating that vaping is becoming common in teenagers. But if he puts a ban on vaping, it would definitely not stop smoking among teenagers, as most probably they would switch to normal cigarettes. This by no means is a good news as normal cigarettes claim around half a million lives each year. It is more even when compared to all the deaths caused by alcohol, AIDS, illegal drugs, murders and suicides. Even if vaping is as harmful as our worst estimates claim it to be, it is still not even half as harmful as normal cigarettes, which is something that no country would dare to put a ban on due to the revenue coming from it.

Why putting a ban on vaping might worsen the problem?

Cocaine increases riskStrange as it might seem, but putting a ban on something as common as vaping might worsen the problem even further. For example, people still continue to die because of illegal drugs like heroin and cocaine. Not only these drugs themselves are toxic, but since one can only buy them from illegal sources, they have no quality control over them. Selling heroin itself is illegal, sothose who are selling it wouldn’t care about making it safer as that wouldn’t make it more legal.

The same case might apply to vaping too. If by chance the vape cartridges that are causing vape crisis are coming from black market, then banning vapes would further intensify the problem, as then then shady manufacturers would become more prominent. They would no longer have to face the competition from the popular firms that provide safer e-cigarettes.

History shows that even putting strict ban on anything doesn’t completely eliminate it complete it from the society. It just makes the thing an underground commodity. This makes the thing lose its quality. In addition, the thing also gets associated with criminal organization, which brings myriad other evils with itself. Therefore, putting strict quality control is always better than calling out for an all-out ban.

Vested interests behind putting a ban on vaping?

light taxes on the traditional bidisUnsurprisingly, India was one of the first countries that gladly put a ban on vaping after hearing the bad news coming from the US. But all this had little to do with the government of India’s concern for the safety of its citizens. Had it been so, the country wouldn’t have put such light taxes on the traditional bidis, which account for 77% of tobacco consumption in the country. It is clear that there is more to the picture than this, as, infamously enough, the Government of India has 28% of share in ITC (Indian Tobacco Company) whose shares went up by 10% following the announcement.

It is a known fact that as e-cigarettes become more popular, they sharply affect the sales of traditional cigarettes, which is supposed to be a good thing. However, in India at least, although this might’ve been good for the people, but not so for the government. Like every other government, the government of India too is providing strong reasons for putting a ban on vaping, however, unless it raises the taxes on the cheaper and much harmful bidis, this stance would look only hypocritical.

Why now? Vaping has been there for over a decade

relation between vaping and lung damageThe first e-cigarette in the US was first introduced in the US back in 2007.Since it posed itself as an alternative to the more harmful cigarettes, it has always been under constant scrutiny. But until recently no significant research has come up which states that vaping poses some special threat. Most of the researches were of the opinion that vaping is harmful indeed, as it has nicotine in it, but since the amount of nicotine in it isn’t too much, it is not as harmful as cigarettes.

The recent research published in The New England Journal of Medicine was amongst the few that indicated towards any relation between vaping and lung damage. However, its findings too aren’t too concrete to rely on. Furthermore, even the investigation carried out by the US Food and Drug Administration didn’t come up with something decisive. All these investigations came up with was that the samples tested contained significant amount of Vitamin-E Acetate along with THC, but how this relates to the lung damage is still not clear.

We are seeing states and countries putting a ban over vaping. The victims of the vaping crisis are sharing their stories on social media. Moreover, owing to the widespread presence and use of vaping, news related to it is there is literally everywhere. The panic is natural. To begin with, people had accepted vaping very slowly and cautiously. We’ve learnt from our history that we shouldn’t accept anything addictive too readily. There’s nothing that proves this point better than the case of cigarettes.

Why only vaping? Why not cigarettes too?

woman smokeing cigaretteAt present, just like alcohol, in most of the countries it is illegal to directly promote cigarettes via print or media. Strange as this may seem, this hasn’t been always the case. Before the ill-effects of cigarettes become known worldwide, it was the bright and colorful advertisements that brought it to popularity. In early 20th Century, cigarettes were seen as a sign of class, self-reliance and masculinity. Later on, it also became one of the prime symbols of feminism. Women were equal to men, so women too could smoke cigarettes.

All this would have looked quite ludicrous during the second half of the 20th Century, when it became universally known how dangerous cigarettes can be. By then, the damage was already done. 50% of men and 33% of women were already cigarette smokers. Although the number of cigarette smokers gradually diminished, but they are still substantial. The governments worldwide are advertising against it, nevertheless, as of now, Bhutan is the only country that has gone as far as banning it completely.

What to do?

Stop smokingThe answer to this question is and has always been extremely simple. Stop smoking. Find out the reason why you smoke and get over it once and forever. But it’s easier said than done. The best that most of us can do is we can be mindful of our smoking habits. By simply becoming aware of what we smoke and how frequently we smoke can be quite helpful. Vaping could be much worse than cigarettes if you blow out an entire cartridge in a day, and that’s what many people are doing.

If you have any bad habits like smoking and drinking, we suggest that you see a doctor at least once in 2-3 months and get tested for possible damage. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Just because everyone else around you is smoking, doesn’t make you less vulnerable to it. Smoking kills, irrespective of how you go about it.

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