Mothers Against Vaping throws light on WHO's warning over use of new-age gateway devices

Health |  IANS  | Published :

New Delhi, Feb 28 (IANS) Mothers Against Vaping, a united front of proactive and concerned mothers who are combatting the escalating vaping crisis among youth, has highlighted the urgent need to take immediate action on the World Health Organisation’s call on South East Asian countries to curb use of new-age gateway devices such as e-cigarettes and vapes, particularly among children and youth.

The WHO's warning against the increasing rise of vaping in the region underscores and reemphasises the required urgency to control the viral spread of e-cigarettes and other new-age gateway products.

Mothers Against Vaping has reiterated that there is insufficient evidence to support the efficacy of e-cigarettes in smoking cessation and these devices pose significant health risks to children and youth. In December 2023, WHO emphasised that e-cigarettes have not demonstrated effectiveness in quitting tobacco use, with emerging evidence pointing to adverse population health effects associated with these new-age electronic devices.

“WHO is right in asserting that e-cigarettes are not effective in smoking cessation. Scientifically, claiming that e-cigarettes can eliminate nicotine addiction is not accurate, given that these devices contain nicotine. Furthermore, the use of e-cigarettes poses a risk of delivering higher doses of nicotine and other harmful chemicals, potentially causing more harm to users. Hence there is an urgent need for effective measures to curb their usage, especially among the youth,” said Dr. Rajesh Gupta - Additional Director, Pulmonology & Critical Care, Fortis Healthcare, Noida.

According to WHO, the South-East Asia Region has a significant prevalence of smokeless tobacco users, accounting for a massive 77% of the global smokeless tobacco user population. Alarmingly, there are around 11 million adolescent users in the age group of 13-15 years, constituting nearly 30% of the global total. The region is witnessing a rising trend in the use of e-cigarettes and other new-age gateway products, particularly among young people.

“The surge in the use of e-cigarettes among young people is not surprising, influenced by a various of factors including peer pressure and aggressive advertising by manufacturers. Beyond the evident physical harm caused by vaping or e-cigarettes, there is a critical concern about the serious mental health impacts such as mood and anxiety disorders, suicidal thoughts and depressive symptoms,” said Dr. Bhavna Barmi, Clinical Psychologist, Founder, Happiness Studio.

Mothers Against Vaping has drawn attention to a survey conducted by the American Heart Association, presented in February 2023. The findings of the survey revealed a concerning correlation between vaping nicotine and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the psychoactive component in marijuana and self-reported symptoms of depression and anxiety.

“The long-term consequences of e-cigarettes remain unknown, but studies have already demonstrated serious lung injuries and adverse health effects associated with their use. Without effective control measures, the widespread prevalence of these new-age devices, poses a genuine risk, potentially leaving our future generation with lasting health impairments. From causing chemical poisoning in users to jeopardising maternal and foetal health, vaping presents a myriad of physical health risks,” said Dr. Varuna Pathak - former Professor of Gynaecology & Obstetrics, Gandhi Medical College.

India has been at the forefront of banning e-cigarettes and other similar new-age gateway devices. The PECA 2019 legislation has prohibited all aspects of electronic cigarette products including production, manufacturing, import, export, transport, sale, distribution, storage, and advertisement of e-cigarettes, the law renders them illegal in the country. According to Mothers Against Vaping, India and other nations should prioritise demand reduction strategies.

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