Vaping: why has the alert been declared?

It seems one of those stories in which some boys fulfill the dream of succeeding in the business until a series of catastrophic events cast doubt on its success. A few months ago, the magazine Time assured that Juul, the electronic cigarette company founded by Adam Bowen and James Monsees in 2007, had changed the way smoke. Today, the US Attorney’s Office has opened an investigation because it considers them responsible for the greater health crisis that the US It is currently in the hands. The reason? The trail of deaths that the use of these devices is leaving in recent weeks in 38 states.

For now, the city of San Francisco and the State of Michigan already have banned or restricted their sale. But they are not the only measures that have been taken. On September 11, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it will request that electronic cigarettes that have no tobacco flavor are recalled. In India they have advanced and have banned the sale of any type of electronic cigarette, know what you know. It's open season.

The history of vaping starts in 2004. Bowen and Monsees are two university students who go out to smoke at the door of the faculty. They are looking for an idea for their final year project. “And if we create one healthiest way to smoke?", they consider. That was the birth of the electronic cigarette. 15 years later, its use extends and keeps health authorities around the world in check. Because what was presented as a solution not only It is no use to quit smoking, but you may get the opposite: after the titanic efforts so that new generations do not get hooked on tobacco, vaping could be, precisely, the new way to start a habit, that of tobacco, which is already charged eight million lives in the world every year, according to WHO.

The six people who have died in the United States In recent weeks they share the same feature: they smoked with electronic devices. Another 540 vapers have been admitted with severe respiratory problems. “We have been warning you for a long time: electronic cigarettes are very dangerous. Much. And we may be late, ”warns the pulmonologist Carlos A. Jiménez Ruiz, president of the Spanish Society of Pulmonology and Thoracic Surgery (SEPAR).

The medical class has attended the commercial bombardment of electronic cigarette companies with a mixture of stupefaction and outrage. These devices expose users, and the people around them, to harmful chemicals, including 10 of those that appear in the lists of substances that cause Cancer, birth defects and other reproductive harm.

The e-liquid ingredients of an electronic cigarette, such as the propylene glycol and the flavoring agents, inflame the respiratory system, which could cause the development of cancer and other chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases. Fine and ultrafine aerosol particles, even with a brief exposure, could cause throat and eye irritation, cough, dizziness and asthma.

Doctors also ensure that vaping causes short-term inflammation in the lungs similar to that caused by normal cigarettes. Not to mention certain particles that also threaten the functioning of the heart and narrow the arteries. The latest scientific study that has been published on vaping effects has appeared in the prestigious medical journal JAMA and warns that “electronic cigarettes contain a chemical compound (pulegon) that can cause cancer, and has already been banned as a food additive. ”

However, lManufacturers defend themselves. First they warn that the series of deaths of the United States has its origin in an improper use of inhalers, because according to them there has been a manipulation to fill it with toxic substances such as THC, which is the most important psychoactive component of cannabis mixed with oil

On the scientific level, they argue that there are no long-term prospective studies on the assumptions harmful effects of your product compared to tobacco. But even so, the greatest scientific evidence, absolutely indisputable, is that Almost all electronic cigarettes contain nicotine, a highly addictive and highly studied neurotoxin. That of electronic cigarettes is derived from tobacco, as is the nicotine of traditional cigarettes, a dangerous and as addictive chemical as heroin. But the biggest problem is that, in addition, some brands of electronic cigarettes offer the possibility of combining and manipulating the e-liquid itself. Deaths in the United States have shown that this is the most dangerous of all: the lack of control over a product with chemicals which, if not used properly, can cause lethal reactions.

In search of a reason to legislate

Given this confusing perspective, what to do? Already in 2014, SEPAR issued a report asking the Spanish health authorities that regulate the electronic cigarette and its accessories as a medication. “This would control the indiscriminate consumption that exists right now. The danger is that a whole generation of young people is starting to use tobacco through it, ”the analysis announced. In addition, I understood that the regulation of this device as medication could contribute to its production and distribution conform to the quality and safety standards required for pharmaceutical products, and would facilitate scientific and medical research of these devices.

But what worried the editors of the report most was the important step backwards in the progress towards a non-smoking society. “The process of denormalization of tobacco consumption in public places consequence of the current Law regulating tobacco consumption ”, they pointed out five years ago. Currently, Spanish legislation allows the use of electronic cigarettes in non-sanitary work centers, bars and restaurants. Too tolerate your advertising. Basically, its use is prohibited in public administrations, hospitals and schools. Nor can you vape on public transportation, trains, boats and playgrounds.

In the middle of the conflict, and with the consequent irritation of the manufacturers of electronic cigarettes, the Spanish Ministry of Health He has shown where he is from. He has done it through an advertisement in which young people appear smoking with several devices (electronic cigarettes, vapers or hookahs) with a final message: "Do not be fooled: tobacco binds and kills you." And in the United States, the president Donald Trump He announced: "We have a new problem in this country called vaping, especially among innocent children."

“The initial message of the electronic cigarette industry is that its product was like a methadone, which served the normal cigarette smoker to quit his habit. It has been shown that this is not the case. And it is considered as a possible gateway for young people to end up smoking conventional cigarettes, ”says dr. Jiménez Ruiz. Of the same opinion is Joan Ramón Villalbí, president of the Spanish Society of Public Health and Health Administration (SESPAS): “All the clues suggest this idea. That is why it is convenient to tackle the situation and establish a restrictive regulation and with tax rates as dissuasive as those of normal tobacco ”.

Now the first concern is to stop the extension of this fashion and the recruitment of young users. “It is not necessary to wait for things like those in the US to happen. to legislate and control this type of products and their advertising messages. It must be done before it is too late, ”concludes dr. Jiménez Ruiz.

The smoke of the new generation

One in two Spanish students between 14 and 18 years old has tried the electronic cigarette, according to data from the Ministry of Health. "All the promotion of this industry is aimed at capturing kids," says Joan Ramón Villalbí, of the Spanish Society of Public Health and Health Administration. How have you managed to seduce them? Combining technology with the desire to "break" with the old, after all, "el traditional tobacco has a bad image and that motivates them to look for alternatives, ”says Iñaki Galán, of the National Epidemiology Center.