Like many other nations, Pakistan has seen a sharp increase in the use of electronic cigarettes, or “e-cigarettes,” which puts the youth of the nation “at risk” for respiratory, oral, and brain health problems.
Regular use of e-cigarettes and other tobacco products can do even more harm to the human body than smoking traditional cigarettes, in addition to raising the risk of drug addiction and negatively impacting the brain, IQ, and respiratory system over time.
Principal Medical Officer Dr. Malik Riaz Khan of the government hospital Pabbi in Nowshera claims that e-cigarettes are just as dangerous as traditional cigarettes and that daily use of them can be lethal since they pose a risk of lung, mouth, and throat cancers.
He mentioned studies to support his claim that 15.9 million people (12.4%) used smokeless tobacco, and 6.2% of people utilized vaping or e-cigarettes.
“The young adults, especially college and university students, when consumed these products do not realise the long term harmful impacts of e-cigarettes and at a later stage expose themselves to serious lung related diseases, nicotine addiction, depression and anxiety,” he stated.
The Provincial Alliance for Sustainable Tobacco Control and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s (KP) Blue Veins have also urged the provincial government and relevant authorities to be on the lookout for the tobacco industry’s deceptive tactics and to take coordinated action to counter them.
According to Sana Ahmad, Program Coordinator of Blue Veins, a civil society organization, “governments and civil society organizations must remain active and vigilant against third parties and front groups that are working with the support of the tobacco industry.”
“These organizations are promoting agendas that disregard public health in favor of the tobacco industry’s interests, acting at the behest and with the support of the industry.”
“Nicotine, an addictive drug that can raise blood pressure, elevate heart rate, and impair brain function, is a common ingredient in e-cigarettes. Young individuals are particularly affected by the phenomenon since their brains are still developing,” she continued.
However, Dr. Qazi Shahbaz, the Chairman of the Provincial Doctors Association, believes that the vaping industry cannot be allowed to reverse the gains made in tobacco control thus far in terms of safeguarding the public’s health and keeping a new generation from succumbing to nicotine addiction and its detrimental effects.
According to some research, breathing in the vapour from e-cigarettes can cause respiratory issues, and the aerosol from the cigarettes can irritate the airways and induce inflammation, which can result in coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath.
Additionally, reports of severe lung injuries linked to vaping or e-cigarettes have been made. In addition to causing symptoms like breathing difficulties and chest pain, the dangerous habit can also be lethal in certain situations, he stressed. This highlights the need for a higher level, goal-oriented plan to stop the spread of e-cigarettes.
The Provincial Alliance for Sustainable Tobacco Control KP has demanded an immediate ban on vapes and e-cigarettes in Pakistan due to the risks associated with using these products.
The coalition has called for laws to be in line with recent World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations, which suggest that governments handle e-cigarettes in the same way as traditional tobacco products and impose a total ban on them for the benefit of coming generations.
Remarks like “Quit smoking and start vaping” are luring young people to adopt new tobacco product habits, and it is best to dissuade them, according to Ajmal Shah, coordinator of KP’s Tobacco Control Cell.
Regrettably, these actions are encouraging the use of heated tobacco products, vaping, and e-cigarettes, especially among young people.
It is important to note that KP just passed section 144, which outlaws the sale, storage, and use of vapes and e-cigarettes to minors and within close proximity to the province’s educational institutions.
The KP Home Department sent a notification stating, “The decision has been taken in wake of the alarming increase in use of e-cigarettes and vaping devices, particularly among children and youth in the province.”
The decision outlawed the sale of vapes and e-cigarettes to anybody under the age of 21 anywhere in the province.
In a similar vein, it is illegal for KP to sell, store, or use vapes or e-cigarettes within 50 meters of any educational facility.