The Burning Issue: Dangers of Vaping

Everything you need to know about the risks of e-cigarettes.
Monday 6 April 2020
The future looks hazy for the vaping industry. Photo: Unsplash

The United States of America faces the full force of the dangers of vaping as the country has been rocked by an outbreak of vaping-related illnesses and deaths. The future looks hazy for e-cigs, once hailed as a powerful tool to help smokers kick the habit.

The driving force behind the products was the naive or hopeful belief that this represented the best tool for smoking cessation. The US Food and Drug Administration reports that a traditional cigarette has 93 harmful and potentially harmful constituents and e-cigs were believed to be far safer in contrast. But safer doesn’t equate to safe as we dive deeper into the dangers of vaping. 


Deaths and dangers of vaping


dangers of vaping with lawsuit against Juul
US State Attorney General Letitia James leaves after announcing a lawsuit against e-cigarette giant Juul on November 19, 2019 in New York City. Photo: Spencer Platt/AFP


On 23 August 2019, the first vaping-related death was reported in Illinois – a middle-aged man who had suffered from severe respiratory illness. However, following this report, a spate of deaths has been confirmed by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as “e-cigarette, or vaping, product use associated lung injury” or EVALI. Those affected fell sick with severe respiratory illness that deteriorated so rapidly that the current situation has been labelled an epidemic.

On 14 November 2019, the CDC reported 2,172 lung injury cases linked to vaping/e-cig. As of 20 November 2019, there have been 47 deaths and counting. An investigation by the CDC found that the highest percentage (38%) of EVALI patients were aged between 18 and 24; 23% were above 35. In November 2019, the CDC reported finding Vitamin E acetate in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) in samples from 29 patients, further stressing on the dangers of vaping.


The vaping industry in Malaysia


man vaping near the beach
Photo: The popularity of e-cigarettes goes beyond borders.


In Malaysia, the sale of e-liquids containing nicotine has been banned since 2015, according to The Star. However, there isn’t any regulation on the production of e-liquids or e-cig devices which are popular in the country. 

According to a report in The Edge Markets, the Malaysian illicit market is estimated to be around US$478.51 million. Dr Amira Jamil, noted that the studies were conducted on liquids in countries where there are regulations, so we do not know what exactly goes into the unregulated or locally produced products, especially in Malaysia. Dr Amira who holds a PhD in Physiology from Oxford and is a Pharmacy lecturer at Universiti Malaya. 


dangers of vaping around the world
The vaping industry poses a major health risk to the global population. Photo: Unsplash


Many people can tout the benefits of e-cigarettes, but they cannot disprove the negatives. Longevity studies can only be based on real-life human guinea pigs, so for now, only time will tell on the dangers of vaping. 

While cigarettes have been around since the 1600s and tobacco smoking has been traced to the Aztecs, 10 to 16 years of e-cigs is too short a time to assess the damages with any certainty. Better not to vape than be sorry.

This article is an excerpt from Unreserved’s March 2020 issue from the article The Burning Issue.