Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, are becoming increasingly popular in Bangladesh as an alternative to traditional tobacco products. E-cigarettes are battery-operated devices that heat up a liquid containing nicotine, flavorings, and other chemicals to create an aerosol that is inhaled by the user. While e-cigarettes have been marketed as a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes, research suggests that they may pose several significant health concerns.
According to a study conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO), the use of e-cigarettes among youth in Bangladesh has increased significantly in recent years. In 2016, 4.4 per cent of students aged 13-15 reported using e-cigarettes, and by 2019, this figure had increased to 14.4 per cent. The study also found that E-cigarettes use was more common among boys than girls.
There are several health related problems associated with the use of e-cigarettes, ranging from short-term effects to long-term health risks. The short-term effects of E-cigarettes use can include: (1) Nicotine addiction, (2) Respiratory problems as it can be said that E-cigarettes aerosol can irritate the lungs and cause inflammation, leading to respiratory problems such as coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath, (3) Increased heart rate and blood pressure, (4) E-cigarettes use can cause headaches, dizziness, and nausea, particularly in first-time users. (5) E-cigarettes aerosol can cause eye irritation, which can be particularly problematic for individuals with pre-existing eye conditions, (6) Allergic reactions.
The long-term health risks associated with e-cigarettes use are less well-known, as the devices have only been widely available for a relatively short period of time. However, some studies suggest that long-term e-cigarettes use may increase the risk of: Respiratory disease: e-cigarettes use has been linked to an increased risk of respiratory disease, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma, Cardiovascular disease: e-cigarettes use has also been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks and strokes, Cancer: Some studies have suggested that e-cigarettes use may increase the risk of cancer, particularly lung cancer, e-cigarettes use has been linked to reproductive health problems, including reduced fertility and premature birth.
E-cigarettes waste can leach toxic chemicals into the environment, which can potentially harm wildlife and ecosystems. E-cigarettes have several components, including a battery, a cartridge, and an atomizer, which generate significant waste. In Bangladesh, there is a lack of proper waste management and disposal practices for e-cigarettes. According to a study published in the Journal of Hazardous Materials, E-cigarettes waste can potentially release hazardous chemicals into the environment. E-cigarettes aerosol contains a variety of harmful chemicals, including formaldehyde, acrolein, and particulate matter, which can contribute to indoor and outdoor air pollution.
When e-cigarettes waste is not disposed of correctly, these chemicals can contaminate soil and water, potentially harming wildlife and ecosystems. E-cigarettes cartridges are typically made of plastic, which can take hundreds of years to decompose. When e-cigarettes waste ends up in landfills, it can contribute to the plastic pollution problem, which is already a significant issue in Bangladesh. E-cigarettes use lithium-ion batteries, which can pose a fire hazard if not disposed of properly. The production of e-cigarettes and the associated energy consumption can contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, which can exacerbate climate change.
Bangladesh should consider regulating e-cigarettes to ensure they are safe and contain only approved ingredients. This can be done by establishing product standards and setting limits on nicotine content. The public needs to be educated about the health risks associated with e-cigarettes, including the risk of addiction, respiratory problems, and cancer. E-cigarettes packaging should include warning labels to inform consumers about the potential health risks associated with e-cigarettes. E-cigarettes should be taxed to reduce their affordability and make them less attractive to young people. Bangladesh should enforce age restrictions on the sale of e-cigarettes to prevent their use by minors. Smoke-free policies: Public spaces and workplaces should be designated as smoke-free zones, which include e-cigarettes. A study published in the journal Tobacco Control found that smoke-free policies can help reduce e-cigarettes use.
Individuals who are addicted to e-cigarettes should have access to cessation programs to help them quit. E-cigarettes marketing should be regulated to prevent companies from targeting young people with advertising. Bangladesh should consider banning flavored e-cigarettes to prevent their appeal to young people. Bangladesh should invest in research to better understand the long-term health effects of e-cigarettes. This can help inform public health policies and interventions. Bangladesh should monitor e-cigarettes use to identify emerging trends and respond appropriately.
Bangladesh should collaborate with international organizations to address the global e-cigarettes problem. This can help share best practices and ensure a coordinated response. The best way to reduce the health risks associated with e-cigarettes is to quit using them altogether. Nicotine replacement therapy, counseling, and support groups can all be effective tools for quitting. E-cigarettes aerosol can contain harmful chemicals, so it’s important to avoid exposure to secondhand smoke whenever possible. This means avoiding areas where e-cigarettes are being used and encouraging others to do the same.
While e-cigarettes have been marketed as a so-called safer alternative to traditional cigarettes, they still pose several environmental concerns. E-cigarettes contribute to waste and can potentially contribute to air pollution. To address these concerns, the government of Bangladesh should implement regulations around e-cigarettes waste, and launch public education campaigns to raise awareness about the health, environment, social and Economic impacts of e-cigarettes. By taking these steps, we can work towards creating a cleaner, healthier environment for all.