KARACHI: There was a time, be it on a street corner or cafe, most young people would have a cigarette in their hands but times are changing and now youngsters have electronic cigarettes and vapes clinging to their mouths.
The use of e-cigarettes is not as common as cigarettes yet.
However, if you visit big cities like Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad, you will definitely see e-cigarettes in the hands of some youngsters instead of cigarettes.
Young people who smoke e-cigarettes believe that it causes less harm than regular cigarettes, while the general public also thinks that e-cigarettes help quit smoking.
Hamza Ali Kashmiri, a young man, told Aaj News that he has been smoking e-cigarettes for the past five years, explaining that he feels like a hero when he smokes.
He said he spends money on e-cigarettes for a change of taste, which costs around Rs 1500.
What is an electronic cigarette?
An electronic cigarette is a battery-operated device, containing an artificial flavour, which is released after inhalation into the lungs.
Cigarettes contain harmful substances including nicotine, while people believe that e-cigarettes give the sensation of smoking without all the harmful effects of tobacco.
Can e-cigarettes cause heart disease?
But medical experts think otherwise. Karachi’s Civil Hospital House Officer Dr Rija Afaq in conversation with Aaj News said e-cigarettes pose serious health risks, including depression, lung disease and stroke.
The risk of stroke increases by 71% and the risk of heart disease increases by 40% compared to those who do not use e-cigarettes, she said.
She explained that studies have shown that e-cigarettes can damage the heart’s arteries and damage the cardiovascular system while increasing the chances of a heart attack by 42%.
Aaj News spoke to another young person, on a condition of anonymity, he said that e-cigarettes are also used because they do not make you smell like cigarettes.
“That’s why we can easily smoke e-cigarettes in public as well as private spaces.”
When asked whether he smoked or not, he refused to answer. But he said that there are definite side effects of smoking e-cigarettes since they also contain nicotine.
E-cigarette use is the leading cause of oral cancer
Dr Pinky Bhojani, serving as the house officer at Karachi Medical and Dental College, told Aaj News that the use of e-cigarettes is the biggest obstacle in oral hygiene and can lead to gum disease.
She said that smoking, especially the use of e-cigarettes, is the root cause of all oral diseases, due to which the gums become weak, become irritated and bleed.
Smoking any type of cigarette, including e-cigarettes, can cause bad breath, while the habit is also one of the major causes of oral cancer, followed by chewing tobacco, Dr Pinky Bhojani warned.
Varieties of e-cigarettes
Even though the technology behind e-cigarettes is new, there are already various models on the market.
On the insistence of Aaj News, a young man named Kumail Abbas said that he has been smoking e-cigarettes for the past year.
People generally believe that they can stop smoking by leaning on e-cigarettes as you can control the amount of nicotine entering your body, said Kumail.
Both contain nicotine
Nicotine is released when tobacco burns and it causes diseases, said Dr Madiha Arif. While e-cigarettes contain liquid flavours instead of tobacco, burning which is slightly less harmful than burning nicotine with other carcinogens (cancer-causing substances).
But she said that both contain nicotine, which can be addictive, so both should be avoided.
Dr. Madeeha Arif has been serving as a physiotherapist for the past several years in a private medical centre called Rehab Care Polyclinic in Lahore.
She has treated many patients with lung problems by providing “cupping therapy”, which restores the flow of air and relieves breathing difficulties.
Author is a sub-editor at Digital Web Desk. His Twitter handle is @khateebahmed64