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Looks can be deceiving - not all “pens” are for writing

E-cigarettes and vapourisers are battery-operated devices that release nicotine by heating up chemicals or e-liquids and turning them into vapour, which users then inhale. PHOTO: ISTOCK
E-cigarettes and vapourisers are battery-operated devices that release nicotine by heating up chemicals or e-liquids and turning them into vapour, which users then inhale. PHOTO: ISTOCK

The appealing forms of e-cigarette and flavours of vapours mask the risks of vaping

Cinnamon, vanilla, butter popcorn, mint. They sound like delicious candy flavours but these are actually deceiving flavours of vape.

E-cigarettes and vapourisers are battery-operated devices that release nicotine by heating up chemicals or e-liquids and turning them into vapour, which users then inhale. 

Part of its appeal, especially to youth, is the variety of forms such as pens and USB memory sticks, and the range of juice flavours.

E-Cigarettes contain cancer-causing chemicals

Vaping exposes one to nicotine, an addictive, toxic substance that can harm the developing brain. Up to the age of 25, the brain is still developing, making a young person more susceptible to addiction1.

Once upon a time, insecticides and fumigants in the United States contained nicotine. These are products created to kill pests - definitely bad news for the body as nicotine affects the nervous system and the heart2


Insecticides and fumigants in the US used to contain nicotine. These are products created to kill pests - definitely bad news for the body. PHOTO: ISTOCK

And since the e-cigarette is addictive due to its nicotine content, users get hooked and the accumulation of toxins causes harm to the body.

One cancer-causing chemical found in the e-cigarette vapour is benzene, which is also found in emissions from burning coal and oil, and gasoline. Inhalation may cause headaches and eye irritation, and chronic exposure to benzene can cause disorders in the blood, including a drop in red blood cells.

A human carcinogen, or cancer-causing chemical, that’s found in e-cigarette is formaldehyde. The chemical is used to preserve dead bodies. According to research studies, exposure to the chemical may cause several cancers such as nasopharyngeal cancer and leukemia. 

E-cigarette may also be harmful to those around the user. Therefore, the selfish claim of “I’m not hurting anyone else” doesn’t ring true for e-cigarette3 users. There are about 113 chemicals identified in e-cigarettes, and 12 of them were identified in mainstream and sidestream smoke4.

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It is imperative that our youth are warned of the ill-effects of e-cigarettes, which are illegal in Singapore. The use, possession and sale of e-cigarettes is prohibited in Singapore -- anyone flouting this regulation can be fined and/or jailed.

 In the US, the number of e-cigarette users among high school students leapt by 900 per cent from 2011 to 2015. This is a worrying trend as it suggests that e-cigarettes appeal to the youth.

Parents can share their knowledge on e-cigarette with their children. 

  • Here are some tips for parents on how to broach the topic with their children:
  • Know the facts on e-cigarettes.
  • Lead by example. As a role model, if you are smoking, it’s not too late to quit.
  • Be patient, and listen to your child’s input.
  • Keep the conversation open and encourage a discussion -- refrain from top-down “lecturing”.
  • Avoid taking on an accusatory tone -- it’ll only create a communication barrier.
  • Let your child know that his or her well-being is of your top concern.
  • If your child poses a tough question, suggest that both of you research for the information and try to find the answer together.
  • Rally the support of your healthcare provider and other adults such as relatives and tutors - get them to talk to your child about the effects of e-cigarettes.

To learn more about the health risks of vaping, go to healthhub.sg/vaping

Sources:

1. Picciotto MR, Mineur YS. Molecules and circuits involved in nicotine addiction: The many faces of smoking. Neuropharmacology. 2014;76 Pt B:545-553. doi:10.1016/j.neuropharm.2013.04.028; Balfour DJK. The role of mesoaccumbens dopamine in nicotine dependence. Curr Top Behav Neurosci. 2015;24:55-98. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-13482-6_3; Cosgrove KP, Esterlis I, Sandiego C, Petrulli R, Morris ED. Imaging Tobacco Smoking with PET and SPECT. Curr Top Behav Neurosci. 2015;24:1-17. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-13482-6_1.

2. http://www.gaspforair.org/gasp/gedc/pdf/E-CigSmoke.pdf

3. A consensus study report of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine on Public Health Consequences of E-Cigarettes, page 5-1, http://nap.edu/24952

4. http://www.gaspforair.org/gasp/gedc/pdf/E-CigSmoke.pdf