UAE doctors warn: E-cigarettes could be bringing back a dangerous habit by making smoking look cool

UAE doctors warn: E-cigarettes could be bringing back a dangerous habit by making smoking look cool

Teens who use these products are up to three times more likely to use tobacco products in the future, according to global health authorities

By Ehaab Qadeer

Published: Sun 20 Nov 2022, 6:00 AM

Doctors in the UAE are alarmed by how the youth are increasingly taking to e-cigarettes after targeted campaigns make them look cool. Their comments came after a study conducted in the US found that more adolescent e-cigarette users report vaping within five minutes of waking up.

According to the study published in the medical journal JAMA Network Open, teens are getting addicted to e-cigarettes younger; with addictions being more intense.

Interestingly, between 2014 and 2017, less than one per cent of e-cigarette users reported using the devices within five minutes of waking up, while by 2021, the total drastically grew to 10.3 per cent.

A doctor in the UAE told Khaleej Times that when “we sleep, our body goes through detoxification”.

“Sleep allows our body and mind to recharge. After a night’s sleep, our body is clean from all the toxins. When we smoke as soon as we wake up, our body gets intoxicated which is harmful to the body. Smoking raises the individual’s risk of developing several types of diseases.”

According to Dr Harkirat S. Wilkhoo, health and lifestyle Coach at RAK Hospital, the youth seem to be trying vapes and e-cigarettes as a “cool factor” under peer pressure.

“E- cigarettes are not at all cool. It gives the pleasure of euphoria, but they are very harmful as they have heavy metals and carcinogenic chemicals which are absorbed directly into deep lung tissue,” Dr Harkirat said.

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A World Health Organisation (WHO) report last year said consumption of e-cigarettes is on the rise and these products have been marketed to children and adolescents by tobacco companies, using thousands of appealing flavours and misleading claims.

Peculiarly, trends in teen use of e-cigarettes differ from those of adults, as data show fewer adults use the products altogether.

The WHO is also concerned that teens who use these products are up to three times more likely to use tobacco products in the future and there are fears that e-cigarettes would create a new generation of smokers.

Awareness drive in UAE

In the UAE, the sale of tobacco products — including e-cigarettes — to those under 18 is banned. Smoking in private cars when a child under the age of 12 is present is also not allowed.

Dr. Salman Abdul Bari, specialist in internal medicine and incharge of accident and emergency department at RAK Hospital, said e-cigarettes cause breathing issues.

“It has clearly shown to harm the developing adolescent brain which keeps developing till the age of 25 causing memory and learning issues, mental health issues, depression and addiction and damage to the nerves as well,” said Dr. Salman.

Lately, many universities have been conducting awareness campaigns by educating students through posters, videos, interactive sessions and most importantly changing the perception and the false beliefs.

On being asked about some smokers quitting cigarettes and opting vape/e-cigarettes. And whether or not that substitute has any lesser effect on the smoker, Dr. Khalid Shukri, Functional Medicine Physician at Wellth in Jumeirah said smoking must be stopped as a whole. “Switching to e-cigarettes does not do good for your body. Smoking can cause the early aging process of your skin. Eventually, it can also affect your brain and heart in the future,” Dr Khalid told Khaleej Times.

The UAE’s Ministry of Health and Prevention (Mohap) has time and again highlighted the dangers of consuming tobacco products, including e-cigarettes. Authorities block websites that advertise and promote electronic tobacco products.

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