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World No Tobacco Day 2024: Thinking of vaping to quit smoking? Learn how it can fuel nicotine addiction

As we strive to combat the scourge of tobacco, it is essential to acknowledge the difficulty in unlearning harmful behaviours once they take root. This prevention initiatives aimed at equipping our youth with the knowledge and resilience needed to resist the allure of tobaccoo.

Written By: Kristina Das @https://twitter.com/KristinaDas2 New Delhi Updated on: May 30, 2024 19:30 IST
Learn how vaping can fuel nicotine addiction
Image Source : FREEPIK Learn how vaping can fuel nicotine addiction.

Smoking has been universally recognised as a major contributor to rising cancer cases. Yet, the larger image of tobacco/nicotine has been one of widespread social acceptance. This has been due to many factors over the years and aggressive marketing campaigns to make smoking “cool” have been one of them, starting from the era of the “Marlboro Man” to the modern trend of e-cigarettes or vaping.

Even after decades of awareness campaigns and printed warnings on packs, a 2022 WHO global study estimated at least 37 million young people aged 13–15 years as using some type of tobacco. This was not a third-world problem, in the European Region alone, about 11.5% of boys and 10.1% of girls in the same age group were tobacco users, totalling 4 million youths.

A major contributor to this fact is the rising popularity of electronic cigarettes and nicotine pouches among young people. In the same European Region, an estimated 12.5% of adolescents used e-cigarettes, compared to only 2% of adults. In some other countries in the Region, the rates of e-cigarette use among school children are 2–3 times higher than rates of cigarette smoking. 

E-cigarettes and vaping

E-cigarettes and vaping are equally perilous, classified as carcinogens and linked to various tobacco-related illnesses, according to Dr Ullas Batra, Co-Director, of the Department of Medical Oncology and Chief of Thoracic, Medical Oncology, Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute and Research Centre (RGCIRC). Introduced with the promise of aiding in de-addiction, e-cigarettes quickly gained popularity, especially among younger generations attracted by their various flavours and sleek electronic designs.

E-cigarettes, meant to help people quit smoking, ironically led to more people picking up traditional cigarettes again. The high cost of e-cigarettes prompted smokers, particularly those already addicted to nicotine-based cigarettes, to revert to their old habits when financial strain became too burdensome.

E-cigarettes became an entry to nicotine addiction for many. The allure of vaping, with its seemingly harmless clouds of vapour, normalized the act of smoking once again, especially among youth seeking acceptance and a sense of belonging.

Moreover, the unregulated nature of e-cigarettes exacerbated the problem. With no stringent guidelines governing their production and distribution, the contents of e-cigarette liquids remained a mystery. 

Cons of tobacco consumption

Tobacco consumption, in any form, poses a grave threat to public health, contributing to the development of eight major cancers, including those of the oral cavity, lungs, stomach, pancreas, kidney, and bladder. In India, head and neck cancer, particularly oral cavity cancer, stands as the most prevalent form of cancer. 

In fact, these cancers account for approximately one-third of all cancer cases globally. In India alone, tobacco-related cancers contribute significantly to the overall cancer burden, with lung cancer being the most prevalent.

While head and neck cancers are also common, lung cancer surpasses them in frequency, particularly among smokers. Both smoking and smokeless tobacco increase the risk of developing cancer, highlighting the pervasive threat posed by tobacco use.

Moreover, there has been a concerning shift in the demographics of smoking-related diseases, with an increasing number of women succumbing to lung cancer due to factors such as pollution and passive smoking. This underscores the pervasive nature of tobacco addiction and the need for targeted interventions across all segments of society.

Protecting our children from the harms of tobacco is not just a moral imperative; it is an investment in the health of future generations. By uniting efforts across communities, governments, and healthcare systems, we can create a world where every child can thrive, free from the shackles of tobacco addiction. 

ALSO READ: World No-Tobacco Day 2024: Improved Lung to Healthier Skin, 5 positive body changes after you quit smoking

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