5 things you should probably know before vaping

2014-10-14 08:58
(File, AP)

(File, AP)

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Cape Town – You might think that vaping sounds like a word you’ll most probably hear in an episode of True Blood.

But you're wrong. Vaping is what people do when they suck on one of those electronic cigarettes.  

It's already a new trend and e-cigarettes are all the rage. But what do we really know about those electronic pleasure sticks (get your mind out of the gutter)?

What is an e-cigarette?

Known as electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) the device emits doses of vaporised nicotine that are inhaled. It's battery-operated and can also emit non-nicotine vaporised solutions.

According to Medical News Today the manufacturers of the e-cigarette say they are an alternative for tobacco smokers who want to avoid inhaling smoke.

According to How Stuff Works e-cigarettes were first developed in China and were introduced to the American market in 2007.

It's since been used as an alternative to smoking real cigarettes.

Is it good for you?

This is the tricky part. Those who use them will be quick to defend the e-cig. "It's safer than smoking a real cigarette," they'll say. This is probably true, but more studies are underway to find out just how much safer - or if there are new risks associated with vaping.

In August, a World Health Organisation (WHO) report called for strict regulation of ENDS.

The report doesn't slam e-cigarettes completely though, conceding this is "an evolving frontier, filled with promise and threat for tobacco control".

Dr Yussuf Saloojee, Executive Director of the National Council Against Smoking (NCAS) told News24: "Revisions are being made in this field almost on a daily basis.

"The NCAS isn't against e-cigarettes, but we need more evidence on the health effects before we can endorse them. They're still so new – they've only been around for a decade."

Can it explode?

It has happened! Not to freak you out or anything but The Telegraph reported on Monday that a man was left seriously injured after his e-cigarette exploded and nearly tore off his leg.

"Medics thought David Aspinall, 48, had been the victim of a gun attack after the e-cigarette blew up and sent shards of metal tearing into his limbs," The Telegraph wrote.

And this wasn’t just an isolated case. In the same article the publication lists a number of similar incidents in which an e-cigarette exploded or suddenly burst into flames. However they don’t identify the make or brand of the cigarettes.

Will it help me quit smoking?

It doesn’t seem like it. The jury is still out on this - the evidence so far has been disappointing, say many health authorities.

All e-cigarettes may really be doing is turning smokers into dual users of both conventional and e-cigarettes, with only a small drop in the amount of tobacco smoked.

Even scarier is that e-cigarettes may act as a gateway for young never-smokers to smoking proper.

Where can I vape?

Because it’s not a cigarette and it doesn’t contain tobacco the law pertaining to e-cigarettes is hazy.

Mark van der Heever, spokesperson for the Western Cape Department of Health, says that as ENDS don't contain tobacco, they can't be read into the definition of "tobacco products" in terms of the Tobacco Control Act, which provides SA with one of the world's tightest set of smoking laws.

"But ENDS products resemble cigarettes, so they can be seen as challenging the denormalisation of tobacco use.

"For this reason, the department is considering amendments to the legislation, to ensure e-cigarettes are regulated," says van der Heever.

Until then, allowing vaping in public spaces like malls and restaurants will be left to the discretion of owners.

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