The lack of regulation for vaping is a critical concern, especially considering the increasing popularity of cool flavours and vape products among young adults.
These flavours may escalate the frequency of vaping and potentially lead to nicotine dependency. The sweeteners and “icy” liquids in vape products can sometimes create a false sense of harmlessness.
Therefore, it is essential to dig deeper into the constituents of these vape products and understand their potential health effects.
In the United Kingdom, the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016 (TRPR) stipulate that electronic cigarettes and refillable vape liquids must not contain harmful ingredients classified as carcinogens (cancer-causing), mutagens (gene-altering), or reprotoxins (reproduction-damaging).
The law also prohibits additives that facilitate the inhalation or absorption of nicotine.
Biomedical and public health researchers from the School of Medical and Life Sciences at Sunway University have conducted an independent study on 28 vape liquids sold in Malaysia, both from online platforms and physical stores. We found that:
- Out of the 28 products, 16 were labelled as containing sweeteners.
- Only one product openly declared the presence of a cooling agent on its label.
Sucralose, a common artificial sweetener found in commercially canned drinks, was among the sweeteners listed on the labels of the sampled vape products.
Although sucralose is generally considered safe to ingest in recommended amounts, heating it to high temperatures within the atomiser of a vape device may cause it to break down into harmful chemicals.
What is less known among the general public is the presence of cooling agents in vaping products. These agents, which offer a refreshing and cool sensation, may seem harmless.
However, studies in the United States and Australia show that all sampled vape liquids contained cooling agents. Even at lower concentrations, agents like WS-23 have been found to adversely affect normal human cell growth.
While these cooling agents or coolants are deemed safe for limited oral ingestion, the effects of daily inhalation are still largely unknown.
Moreover, a recent biological study conducted at the University of California confirmed that cooling agents were found to be toxic to human lung cells.
It’s important to be informed about the potential risks associated with the chemicals used in vape liquids. The sweeteners and synthetic cooling agents found in vape liquids may pose significant health risks when inhaled frequently or over prolonged periods.
Look Keyun, Dr Ser Hooi Leng, Dr Amar Daud Iskandar Abdullah, Prof Elil Renganathan and Prof Long Chiau Ming are from the School of Medical and Life Sciences, Sunway University.
- This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of CodeBlue.