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Vaping: Lighting up, stubbing out

Explore the two-decade journey of vaping from a Chinese invention to global bans. The highs and lows of a controversial habit.

The Evolution of Vaping: From Birth to Bans

A Chinese Invention Lights Up the World Two decades have passed since Chinese pharmacist Hon Lik, desperate to break free from his smoking addiction, introduced the world to the first electronic alternative to traditional cigarettes in 2003. The birth of vaping, marked by the release of the Ruyan e-cigarettes a year later, coincided with Ireland’s groundbreaking ban on smoking in public places. Little did the world know that this invention would ignite a global debate about its potential benefits and pitfalls.

 1: Early Optimism and Lingering Doubts The initial reception of e-cigarettes was mixed. Many doctors embraced the tar-free devices as a potential lifesaver, offering an alternative to the cancer-causing toxins found in traditional cigarettes. However, the World Health Organization remained sceptical, stating in 2008 that there were no conclusive studies demonstrating the safety and effectiveness of e-cigarettes as nicotine replacement therapy.

 Read more: Ananya Pandey Caught Smoking at Cousin’s Wedding!

As the mid-2010s approached, concerns began to surface regarding the rising number of teens inhaling nicotine-laden vapours, leading to potential harm to their developing brains. This sparked a wave of bans across more than 30 countries, as nations like Argentina, Brazil, and India sought to curb the growing popularity of e-cigarettes. 

 2: Vape Culture Takes Center Stage In 2014, “vape” earned the prestigious title of the word of the year, officially entering the dictionary. The habit rapidly gained traction in the United States, Europe, and parts of Asia, with the number of users skyrocketing from seven million in 2011 to a staggering 82 million a decade later.

 Read more: Finally!  Good news in COVID 19: Around 1 million people have  quit smoking

3: Crisis Strikes – The Dark Side of Vaping The vaping phenomenon faced its darkest chapter between 2019 and 2020 when the United States became the epicentre of a health crisis linked to vaping. At least 68 people lost their lives, and over 2,800 others fell ill with a severe lung disease tied to cannabis-containing vaping products. In response, the US Food and Drug Administration took action, banning the sale of many flavoured e-cigarettes, leaving industry giant Juul facing lawsuits and financial ruin.

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4: The War Against Teen Vaping In 2023, Western countries intensified their battle against teen vaping. New Zealand enacted stringent measures, banning e-cigarettes lacking removable batteries and restricting manufacturers from using enticing flavour names. Australia followed suit, announcing a ban on disposable vape imports starting from January 1, 2024. French lawmakers also joined the fray, backing a proposal to outlaw single-use electronic cigarettes, with other European nations like Britain, Germany, and Ireland contemplating similar moves.

As the evolution of vaping continues, the debate over its benefits and risks remains a complex and evolving narrative.

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