Popularly known as vapes, e-cigarettes are a growing trend, especially among young people. An electronic cigarette or e-cigarette is a battery-operated device that heats the liquid inside, which usually contains nicotine and produces vapour, which is inhaled by the user. Using e-cigarettes increases the risk of cancer and respiratory complications apart from triggering anxiety and panic attacks.
The use of e-cigarettes is slowly becoming a trend in the country. The device is also sold online. Although affordable and seemingly fancy, vaping is said to cause respiratory problems and cancers.
“There can be an increase in heart rate, blood pressure, and strain to the blood vessels causing heart diseases in the long run. Vapours have some chemicals, which have a propensity or increased risk to cause some cancers and the other risks are mainly respiratory diseases. Respiratory diseases that are associated with e-cigarette use include chronic cough, bronchial asthma, and inflammation of the air tracks inside the lungs, which is called bronchitis, among others,” said Dr Bikram Chhetri, Officiating Head of Department of Psychiatry, JDWNRH.
He added that there have been reported cases of e-cigarette devices malfunctioning and exploding while using it.
Doctor Bikram says while most people use vaping as a mechanism to quit conventional smoking, there are cases where people become addicted to both.
He added that people do not seek medical assistance and are exposed to health hazards caused by both conventional and electronic cigarettes.
“Since we do not have definite evidence at the moment as some evidence is quite conflicting, we cannot say on the safety profile of using e-cigarettes. It is therefore not recommended to use in reducing or to stop smoking. People who do not smoke should not try it for recreational purposes,” said Dr Bikram Chhetri.
Exposure to the liquid inside the e-cigarette device can cause vomiting, brain injury, seizures, and even death.
According to the World Health Organization, liquid nicotine is highly addictive even in small doses.
Meanwhile, the health ministry says they are awaiting cabinet discussion on e-cigarettes as there are no policies at the moment.
While there are no clear-cut policies, smoking e-cigarettes in prohibited places will be considered the same offence as regular smoking.
The Bhutan Food and Drug Authority also says that the same penalties will be applied in line with the Tobacco Control Act of Bhutan 2010.
Edited by Sherub Dorji