By Jenita Iyalu
It’s called vaping and it’s the latest trend for anyone wanting to quit smoking although the controversy surrounding the use of electronic cigarettes has left many people feeling more confused than relieved.
E-cigarettes, also known as vaporisers, are battery-powered devices, which heat a cartridge containing nicotine, flavouring and other chemicals into a mist, which is inhaled through a mouthpiece and then exhaled by the user as a visible vapour.
While these e-cigarettes don’t always contain nicotine, a big concern is that so-called vaping encourages non-smokers to take up the habit under the premise that it’s less harmful.
Twenty-one-year-old Albert Ngeyo from Canning Vale is not a smoker but has become a social vaper.
Albert says the popularity of the new trend can be attributed to how much it features in music videos and the “coolness” factor that comes with smoking e-cigarettes.
“A lot people tend to use e-cigarettes as a substitute for shisha or smoking,” says Albert.
In his opinion, Albert says e-cigarettes are harmless but he wouldn’t use them in front of his family or any children in case it encourages them to smoke.
There is some evidence that support claims about safety, an obvious one being the lack of toxins or carcinogens.
But according to the Cancer Council, there’s just not enough known about the safety of e-cigarettes or how regular use will impact users in the long term.
The Australian government has yet to recognise e-cigarettes as a quitting aid under the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 (Cth).
This has meant sale of the product has become highly unregulated in Australia and even moreso in WA, the only state to have banned the manufacture and wholesaling of the product.
Although with a steady supply of products available online, users aren’t discouraged.
People like 22-year-old Rajiv Stephen from Canning Vale swear by it as a quitting method.
Having tried everything from cold turkey, to nicotine patches and even smell replacement therapy, he says nothing has worked as well an e-cigarette.
“I feel better smoking an e-cigarette because it doesn’t have the traditional chemicals that you see in cigarettes,” says Rajiv.
Since vaping, Rajiv has quit smoking cigarettes but says that without the e-cigarette he will start smoking again.
Nicotine is legally classified a poison and this what makes it so difficult to regulate.
Complicating the issue, the Cancer Council says not enough is known about these products to regulate them.
While there are many contradicting truths about e-cigarettes, with the growing availability of the product there are calls from expert bodies such as WHO and the Cancer Council for some regulatory attempt to be made.
To learn more about the legality of e-cigarettes click here.
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