Australia follows India to ban vaping as it becomes an epidemic among teens
New Delhi, May 9 (IANS) As part of a major step to protect public health, the government of Australia has banned vaping due to increased usage among teenagers.
Australia has become the 47th country to ban vaping and join countries like India, Singapore, Thailand, Argentina, Japan, Brazil, which have earlier banned e-cigarettes.
Earlier this month while announcing the ban on what has been seen as an epidemic, Australian Health Minister, Mark Butler said vaping has become a significant behavioural issue in high schools and a growing concern in elementary schools.
The Minister expressed his concern over the marketing strategy of disguising vapes as highlighter pens, which makes it easier for kids to hide and use them at school. He called it a shameful tactic and that the government is determined to eliminate this market.
The Australian government will ban the import of non-prescription vaping products including non-nicotine devices.
As the harmful effects of vaping are becoming more evident and its use among teenagers continues to rise globally, experts from various fields, including doctors, pulmonologists, child experts and psychologists are speaking out against vaping.
Many argue that vaping has become a gateway to smoking and that developed countries are late in banning these devices.
The long-term impact of e-cigarettes is still unknown, but studies have shown serious lung injuries and adverse health effects associated with their use.
Vikas Mittal, Associate Director, Pulmonology, Max Healthcare said: "Vaping and E-cigarettes are relatively new intoxication habits and long-term impacts are yet to be fully understood. However, since 2019, several peer-reviewed journals have reported e-cigarette-related lung injuries, some of which have been serious and required ICU interventions. Such concerns and the rising use of such devices among teens are prompting countries to take action and question the harmlessness of e-cigarettes.
"India has done well to ban e-cigarettes early on and any country not taking such measures is being slow in addressing an issue that will undoubtedly pose a health risk to future generations."
Butler believes that the public was promised that vaping would be a pathway out of smoking, not a pathway into it.
Unfortunately, according to the Minister, this is what it has become.
Rajesh Gupta, Additional Director Pulmonology & Critical Care, Fortis Healthcare Noida, said: "It is not scientifically right to claim that a step-down from smoking cigarettes to E-cigarettes will effectively eliminate nicotine addiction. As per current knowledge, this approach is not going to work since E-cigarettes also contain nicotine. When a person uses an e-cigarette, the nicotine vapour is absorbed into the bloodstream and triggers the release of dopamine which is the pleasure chemical in the brain that sustains the addiction. Thus, promoting one form of smoking as a replacement for other form of smoking doesn't make sense.
"E-cigarettes become a step-up activity to smoking conventional cigarettes specially for children. This is because electronic devices which are a key part of e-cigarettes can be used to deliver other higher degrees of addictive substances which can be in the form of sticks or other liquids. I am surprised that developed countries are taking this long to ban e-cigarettes."
India's ban on e-cigarettes in September 2019 was aimed at preventing the potential harm that e-cigarettes could pose to future generations.
The decision was made in consultation with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), which listed the reasons for the ban in a white paper.
The white paper pointed out that electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) contain highly addictive nicotine solutions, as well as other ingredients such as flavouring agents and vaporizers that are harmful to health and can cause adverse effects like cardiovascular and neurological disorders, as well as impact foetal development.
There are two forms of e-cigarettes being promoted: heated tobacco products and vaping devices.
Heated tobacco e-cigarettes heat actual tobacco instead of burning it, resulting in an aerosol that can be inhaled.
While vaping devices do not use tobacco but heat up a liquid usually containing nicotine to create an aerosol.