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EDITORIAL: The dangers of vaping

There are increasing concerns about the health effects of vaping. — Reuters file photo

In a break from the breathless coverage of the inevitable next misstep in the federal election campaign, we take you to India.

On Wednesday, the Indian government joined a growing wave of concern and banned the import, production and sale of e-cigarettes, citing health concerns.

It’s a sign of the growing worries about e-cigarettes and vaping devices, including what’s in the liquids that are heated or vapourized in the devices, and what that soup of materials might be doing to users. New York state, California and Michigan all announced partial bans in the past few weeks, and U.S. President Donald Trump has mused about doing the same thing on a federal scale.

That comes after data showing that seven people have died, and 450 have come down with severe lung problems that have been linked to the devices.

In some ways, it’s all because of physiology.

Adding to the problem is that many of the flavours for tobacco-containing e-cigarette materials seem to be directly targeting younger users, tempting flavours like mango, cherry and cotton candy.

The same way your skin is about protecting you from the contaminants of the world, lungs are necessarily all about absorption; the open window into your body that is lung tissue allows for the exchange of CO2 for oxygen.

It’s also why smoking exists in the first place: rubbing tobacco on your arms might eventually have the desired effect, but your lungs take in nicotine much faster.

And it’s turning out that are all sorts of things in the relatively unregulated area of e-cigarettes and vaping fluids, and in the devices themselves.

Among other things, toxic and potentially carcinogenic metals like cadmium, chromium, lead, manganese and nickel have been found in the fluids; the coils that heat the fluid have also been found to be passing metal nanoparticles into the lungs of users.

Research is thin on the effects of a number of components in the liquids, though the current round of extreme health effects seems to have been caused by the inclusion of Vitamin E acetate used as a thickener in THC oil vapes. (THC is the active ingredient in cannabis, and appears in the United States in black market vaping and e-cigarette products.)

Adding to the problem is that many of the flavours for tobacco-containing e-cigarette materials seem to be directly targeting younger users, tempting flavours like mango, cherry and cotton candy.

There’s been a dramatic growth in use among American high school students, for example, with some states showing more than a doubling of use in the last four years.

There’s plenty of concern, but don’t take our word for it. Try the words of Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Dr. Lee Norman: “It is time to stop vaping. … If you or a loved one is vaping, please stop. The recent deaths across our country, combined with hundreds of reported lung injury cases continue to intensify.”

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