Vaping Isn’t A Harmless Alternative To Smoking — Dr Leevyadhashiny Ganasan

NCSM’s Dr Leevyadhashiny Ganasan dispels the myth that vaping is a “benign alternative” to smoking, calling for restrictions on vape sales & marketing. “One of the most concerning aspects of vaping is its potential to addict a new generation to nicotine.”

In recent years, vaping has surged in popularity, marketed as a safer alternative to smoking traditional cigarettes. Yet, this narrative of harm reduction masks a dangerous reality: vaping is not as harmless as it seems. 

As the debate rages on, it’s time to confront the uncomfortable truth that vaping can be just as harmful as smoking, if not more so.

Let’s be clear, vaping is not merely harmless water vapour. The aerosol produced by e-cigarettes contains a cocktail of chemicals, including nicotine, heavy metals, and volatile organic compounds, which can have adverse effects on respiratory and cardiovascular health. 

While vaping may expose users to fewer toxicants than combustible tobacco, it is by no means risk-free.

One of the most concerning aspects of vaping is its potential to addict a new generation to nicotine. With enticing flavours and sleek designs, e-cigarettes have become increasingly appealing to youth, leading to a surge in vaping rates among adolescents. 

What begins as experimentation can quickly spiral into addiction, with long-term consequences for physical and mental health.

Moreover, the long-term effects of vaping remain largely unknown. While it’s true that e-cigarettes haven’t been around as long as traditional cigarettes, emerging evidence suggests potential harm beyond immediate health risks. 

From respiratory illness to cardiovascular disease, the implications of prolonged vaping are a cause for concern.

The argument that vaping aids smoking cessation also falls short under scrutiny. While some smokers may successfully transition to e-cigarettes as a means of quitting, the evidence supporting vaping as an effective cessation tool is mixed at best.

Furthermore, the rise of dual use where individuals vape and smoke concurrently undermines any potential benefits of harm reduction.

Let’s not forget the regulatory vacuum that surrounds vaping. While tobacco products are subject to strict regulations, e-cigarettes have largely evaded similar scrutiny, allowing manufacturers to market their products with impunity. 

This lack of oversight not only puts consumers at risk but also enables vaping companies to target vulnerable populations, including youth and non-smokers.

In the face of mounting evidence, it’s time to dispel the myth that vaping is a benign alternative to smoking. The harms of nicotine addiction, respiratory illness, and cardiovascular disease cannot be understated. 

We owe it to ourselves and future generations to confront the realities of vaping and take decisive action to protect public health. 

That means implementing comprehensive regulations that restrict the marketing and sale of e- cigarettes, especially to minors. It means investing in research to better understand the long-term effects of vaping and develop effective cessation strategies.

And it means fostering a cultural shift that prioritises health over convenience, challenging the normalisation of vaping in society.

Ultimately, the question of whether vaping is as harmful as smoking is not up for debate. The evidence is clear: vaping poses serious risks to health and well-being. 

It’s time to reject the false dichotomy between smoking and vaping and instead focus on promoting truly safe and effective alternatives to tobacco use. Our health depends on it.

Dr Leevyadhashiny Ganasan is a medical officer at the National Cancer Society of Malaysia (NCSM).

  • This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of CodeBlue.

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