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Urgent Action Needed to Combat Rising Vaping Epidemic

New Delhi, 28 February 2024: Mothers Against Vaping, a coalition of concerned mothers dedicated to addressing the escalating vaping crisis among youth, has underscored the pressing need to heed the World Health Organization's (WHO) call for South East Asian countries to curb the use of new-age gateway devices, including E-Cigarettes and vapes. The alarming rise of vaping among children and adolescents has prompted urgent action to protect the future generation from the harmful effects of these addictive products.

Recent statements from WHO have emphasized the ineffectiveness of E-Cigarettes in smoking cessation and highlighted the significant health risks they pose to young individuals. Echoing these concerns, Mothers Against Vaping stresses the lack of evidence supporting E-Cigarettes as a tool for quitting smoking, with emerging data pointing to adverse health effects associated with their use.

Dr. Rajesh Gupta, Additional Director of Pulmonology & Critical Care at Fortis Healthcare, Noida, supports WHO's stance, stating that E-Cigarettes contain nicotine and pose a risk of delivering harmful chemicals, potentially causing more harm than good. There is a genuine concern about the emergence of E-Cigarette or Vaping Use-Associated Lung Injury (EVALI) in South-East Asia, highlighting the urgent need for effective measures to curb their usage, especially among youth.

According to WHO, the South-East Asia Region has a significant prevalence of smokeless tobacco users, with approximately 11 million adolescents aged 13-15 using these products, representing nearly 30% of the global total. The region is witnessing a disturbing trend of increased E-Cigarette and new-age gateway product use among young people, fueled by peer pressure and aggressive marketing tactics.

Dr. Bhavna Barmi, Clinical Psychologist and Founder of Happiness Studio, emphasizes the mental health impacts of vaping, including mood disorders, anxiety, and depressive symptoms. Concerns about the correlation between vaping nicotine and THC (the psychoactive component in marijuana) and self-reported symptoms of depression and anxiety have been raised, further highlighting the dangers of these products.

Dr. Varuna Pathak, Former Professor of Gynaecology & Obstetrics at Gandhi Medical College, warns of the unknown long-term consequences of E-Cigarettes, including serious lung injuries and adverse health effects. Without effective control measures, the widespread prevalence of these devices poses a genuine risk to future generations, endangering maternal and fetal health and causing chemical poisoning in users.

Several countries in the South East Asian region, including India, have taken steps to address the vaping epidemic by imposing bans on E-Cigarettes. India, in particular, has enacted comprehensive legislation prohibiting all aspects of electronic cigarette products. Mothers Against Vaping calls for prioritized demand reduction strategies, including strict enforcement of laws and penalties to deter vaping and new-age gateway product abuse.

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