News: Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) has urged governments to treat e-cigarettes similarly totobacco and ban all flavors, threatening cigarette companies’ bets on smoking alternatives.

What are e-cigarettes?
• E-cigarettes, also known as electronic cigarettes or vapes, are battery-operated devices that emit a vaporized solution to inhale. They are used for a type of smoking called vaping.
• The device consists of an atomizer, a power source such as a battery, and a container such as a cartridge or tank filled with liquid. Instead of smoke, the user inhales vapor.
• The liquid inside may contain nicotine, other toxins, and flavors. The nicotine content of the liquid can range from “very high” to zero. Flavors vary widely, from “traditional” and menthol to watermelon and 'lava flow'.

What are the concerns raised by WHO?
• E-cigarettes are not proven effective at the population level for quitting tobacco use, and evidence suggests adverse health effects.
• Aggressive marketing, especially targeting young people, combined with inadequate regulations, raises significant concerns.
• Thirty-four countries ban e-cigarette sales, 88 have no minimum age restrictions, and 74 lack regulations for these products.
• In Canada, E-cigarette use among 16–19-year-olds doubled between 2017–2022.
• In England (UK), the number of young e-cigarette users tripled in the past three years.

What are its health risks?
• While the long-term health impact is not fully understood, e-cigarettes produce toxic substances linked to cancer, heart, and lung disorders.
• E-cigarette use can affect brain development, cause learning disorders in young people, and harm fetal development in pregnant women.
• E-cigarettes with nicotine are highly addictive, posing health risks to users and bystanders.

What are the arguments in favour of E-cigarettes?
• Proponents contend that e-cigarettes provide a harm reduction strategy in comparison to traditional tobacco products.
• While containing nicotine, they lack many of the harmful carcinogens found in conventional cigarettes, making them a potentially safer alternative.
• E-cigarettes are argued to be devoid of numerous harmful carcinogens present in traditional cigarettes, reducing the health risks associated with tobacco consumption.
• Seen as a significant tax revenue for government.

E-cigarettes in India:
• In India, the manufacture, trade, and advertisement of e-cigarettes are prohibited under the Prohibition of Electronic Cigarettes (Production, Manufacture, Import, Export, Transport, Sale, Distribution, Storage and Advertisement) Act, 2019.
• This law defines e-cigarettes as battery-operated devices that heat a substance, which may or may not contain nicotine, to create vapor for inhalation. The law also covers e-cigarettes that contain different flavors. 

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