“Vaping” has taken the nation by storm. Where you used to see people chilling on their motorbikes or at a mamak stall taking a puff of their cigarette, now you see them inhaling questionable liquid through an unregulated electronic device.
Why? Well, the argument was that vaping, or smoking an e-cigarette, was much healthier than a regular tobacco cigarette. In fact, the UK recently encouraged cigarette smokers to switch to e-cigs because it could “help them quit all tobacco use forever”.
According to an article published by the New York Times, the Royal College of Physicians found that many of the earlier apprehensions people had with vaping and how it could potentially become a gateway into smoking traditional cigarettes were entirely false. In fact, they claimed that by making the switch to e-cigs, it could actually help people stop smoking entirely and urged smokers to make the switch.
This contradicts the stand taken by many other countries including Malaysia. While our national government will not ban vaping outright on a national level, many states — like Terengganu, Kedah, Negri Sembilan, Johor and Kelantan — have done so on a state level. Last year, the National Fatwa Council of Malaysia also declared vaping as haram (forbidden).
The rationale behind this apprehension is pretty straightforward: Although an e-cig is less harmful to the human body than a traditional cigarette (by up to 95% less) they’re still harmful.
To make matters worse, these e-cigs (and the chemicals in liquid) are unregulated. This means that there is no set rule or guideline manufacturers have to follow when manufacturing vaping chemicals. Who knows what these manufacturers are willing to bake into their products to give it that extra kick.
A while back, Wired did a piece on vaping and e-cigs to explore exactly how hazardous it was to a person’s health and wellbeing. Their findings leaned towards the unhealthy side of the fence. In fact, one of their interviewees even said that if accidentally ingested, the chemicals found in “vape juice” (the liquid that gets vapourised) could kill a child in about 20 minutes.
To the average smoker, the appeal of e-cigs is pretty apparent. The e-cig serves as a healthier alternative to traditional cigarettes because they deliver nicotine without the cancer-causing substances like tar. However, I’m not convinced that vaping will eventually lead to someone quitting tobacco entirely, and for one simple reason:
If there is a healthier way to do something I love, why on earth would I stop doing it? I know that if I could eat Big Macs every day without getting sick or fat, I definitely wouldn’t be in any hurry to stop.