Consider an urgent ban on e-cigarettes
The market and use of e-cigarettes in Bangladesh is growing rapidly due to propaganda and strategic role of some tobacco companies. Many young people are getting addicted to this new tobacco product which is very harmful to public health.
Hit-not-burn or e-cigarettes are a new weapon to get the young generation addicted. These electronic cigarettes are marketed as an alternative to regular cigarettes. The World Health Organization has identified products such as e-cigarettes as harmful to the body.
Initially, e-cigarettes in the country were only available in a few shops in elite areas of the capital. But now it is available all over the country. We have seen that the sales of this product have not decreased but have increased manifold. And sales are increasing day by day in new and old stores. It means that the number of cigarette users in the country is increasing at a geometric rate.
E-cigarettes are marketed as a 'healthy and trendy product', with around 8,000 different flavors - such as fruit, soft drinks, chocolate, mint and other flavors - that pique the curiosity and addiction of the younger generation.
E-cigarettes create the sensation of smoking in the brain by burning nicotine, flavored e-liquid and a chemical called propylene glycol in the cartridge through a lithium battery.
E-cigarettes contain carcinogenic chemicals which is one of the causes of cancer. In addition, researchers claim that the chemicals in e-cigarettes can cause lung disease and respiratory infections.
Apart from this, to use the electronic device, an electric charge has to be paid. Its battery may explode if overcharged. Apart from this, excessive use can also lead to the explosion.
Some recent studies suggest that e-cigarette users have twice the risk of heart attack. This was stated in a study published on August 23 in the American Heart Foundation Journal.
People who smoke e-cigarettes have three times the risk of heart attack than smokers who smoke tobacco cigarettes. According to the study, the more surprising thing is that those who smoke both tobacco cigarettes and e-cigarettes at the same time have five times the risk of heart attack than non-smokers.
Citing a research report from the University of Toronto, Canada, the main researcher Riyad Al-Lehebi said that the information spread about modern e-cigarettes is largely wrong. Not knowing the truth, especially about important information, can be very damaging.
There are 5 common misconceptions about e-cigarettes:
first, electronic cigarettes are promoted as less harmful. But this is not true at all. These high voltage cigarettes produce formaldehyde that gives off a cigarette-like taste. The risk of cancer is 5-15 times higher than regular smoking over a long period of time.
Second, it is considered a safe electrical device. But it is not safe at all. E-cigarettes can explode in your mouth. According to the manufacturers, if there is a problem with the charger, there is a possibility of the cigarette exploding.
Third, there is a misconception that it does not contain toxic substances. According to the American Food and Drug Administration, carcinogens and other toxic substances have been found in it.
Fourth, smoking through e-cigarettes is not considered the same as smoking cigarettes directly. Everyone needs to be aware of this misconception. No studies have found evidence that its smoke is harmless.
Fifth, it is claimed that electronic cigarettes do not cause cancer. The fact is that it has multiple cancer risks. It is highlighted in the first point. Besides, it is difficult to get a clear idea about its true effect unless one smokes this cigarette for many years.
E-cigarettes are allowed in many places where smoking is prohibited. And that's why its demand is increasing. Using e-cigarettes does not actually stop smoking. Rather, people are causing greater danger by spending more on smoking.
A study in Japan found that e-cigarettes are ten times more harmful than regular cigarettes. Any addiction is harmful. Therefore, public awareness should be developed about e-cigarettes as well as ordinary cigarettes.
As there is no clear law on e-cigarettes in Bangladesh, they are being imported and sold at very cheap prices. Not only in shops or markets, e-cigarettes are also sold in online markets. At present, 0.2 percent of people use e-cigarettes, but this number is expected to increase very soon. Among smokers who have considered quitting, some companies are trying to re-addict them to e-cigarettes through subterfuge. Therefore, necessary steps should be taken now to ban its use.
It is possible to control the use of e-cigarettes through the definition of tobacco products in the existing Tobacco Control Act in Bangladesh. Apart from this, it is possible to ban the import and sale of e-cigarettes as per Section 5 of the Drugs (Control) Ordinance 1982 through the Department of Medicines Administration. For this purpose, experts believe that it is necessary to take quick steps to amend the existing tobacco control law. So we think that e-cigarette ban should be taken now to protect the young society of the country.
The writer is campus journalist and student, Department of History, University of Chittagong