The Hidden Dangers of E-Cigarettes

By Dessy Sagita on 11:02 pm Mar 09, 2014
Category Health, News
A customer holds an e-cigarette at the Henley Vaporium in New York City

Electronic cigarettes vaporize and deliver a chemical mixture to the user’s lungs.
(Reuters Photo/Mike Segar)

Jakarta. Amid chronic tobacco addiction, Indonesia is also faced with the lurking dangers of electronic cigarettes, which have started gaining popularity in the country, experts say.

“The safety of electronic cigarettes has not been scientifically proven and the pharmacological effects of nicotine, the addictive component, is known to accelerate the heart rate and raise blood pressure,” said Tara Singh Bam, technical adviser at the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease.

Tara added that the Indonesian government should start regulating the manufacturing, marketing and sales of e-cigarettes.

These devices, or Electronic Nicotine Delivery System (ENDS), vaporize and deliver a chemical mixture to the user’s lungs. The concoction is usually made up of nicotine, propylene glycol and other chemicals, although some products claim not to contain the addictive stimulant at all.

Professor Tjandra Yoga Aditama, director general for Disease Control and Environmental Health, said Indonesia is currently studying nicotine devices so the country may establish policies to regulate manufacturing and sales.

Tjandra, a noted pulmonologist, added that e-cigarette producers have placed disclaimers on their products, warning they should not be used by sufferers of lung diseases, such as asthma, bronchitis or pneumonia

“This [disclaimer] indicates that the product is actually dangerous, especially for the respiratory system,” he said.

Tjandra said e-cigarettes offer customers an illusive sense of safety as they do not produce smoke and would, therefore, not contribute to second-hand smoking.

“The truth is, its effects on non-smokers still exist, considering ENDS devices still release nicotine particles and other toxic substances into the air,” he said.

Growing concerns about the dangers of e-cigarettes have driven some countries, including Brazil, Norway and Singapore, to restrict sales, advertising and use of nicotine devices.

He said Indonesia needs to take a similar approach.

“A comprehensive ban on all forms of advertising, promotion and sponsorship of e-cigarettes must be established,” he said, adding that the display of e-cigarettes in retail stores, as well as sales to minors should also be strictly prohibited.

“E-cigarettes and their refills should not be sold in flavors that are appealing to children,” he said.

The union reported the use of e-cigarettes in many countries, including Indonesia, has grown, reiterating concerns over a product whose health impact is still uncertain.

For youths, it said, questions surround the potential negative impact of nicotine on adolescent brain development, as well as a higher risk of addiction, which could lead to the use of conventional cigars or cigarettes.

The World Health Organization has also announced its worries over such products by suggesting “consumers should be strongly advised not to use” e-cigarettes until a regulatory body has given sound evidence of their safety and efficacy.

Tjandra said nicotine addiction in the country has reached a concerning level. In 2010, an estimated 200,000 Indonesians died of tobacco-related diseases.

Indonesia ranks third in the world for its number of smokers, behind China and India, though the nation has a higher prevalence of tobacco use and addiction among children.

  • Thulium

    “The truth is, its effects on non-smokers still exist, considering ENDS devices still release nicotine particles and other toxic substances into the air,” Nicotine may be the addictive substance for firsthand smokers, but it is not the toxic part of secondhand smoke. The toxins are things like carbon monoxide and tar that is produced when cigarettes are lit on fire. The REAL truth is that there is no evidence that the pharmaceutical grade nicotine used in e-cigarettes is particularly habit forming without the MAOIs and other tobacco alkaloids in cigarette smoke in the first place. Second, if you are truly terrified of exhaled nicotine, you can rest assured that nicotine is actually heavier than air so any that might get exhaled would not travel far at all and be comparable to the amount of nicotine in a packet of ketchup. Finally, the primary thing that electronic vaporizers release into the air is propylene glycol vapor that has been shown by scientific study to be a safe and effective germicide and air sanitizer. It is impossible to prove that there are absolutely no risks involved with anything, but is it really so hard to accept the possibility that switching from smoking to something that doesn’t involve lighting anything on fire or inhaling any smoke might actually be GOOD for you rather than bad?

  • Robert Innes

    I get a bit fed up responding to ‘garbage’ like the above, so I will get straight
    to the point. The ‘dangers’ from e cigarettes are virtually non-existent and
    there is a mass of evidence to back this up. What is reported here is the
    parroting of the nonsensical claims about e cigarettes because of the threat
    they are supposed to pose – but the reality is, it is not a threat to people’s
    health, it is a threat to government income – it is a threat to the lucrative
    jos and positions that men like the ‘esteemed’ professors in the article hold -
    they have a great deal to lose – it is as simple as that.

    Indonesia earned the following from tobacco taxes.
    2005 – $3,548,913,043. (USD)
    2006 -$4,017,391,304.
    2007 – $4,726,086,957.
    2008 – $5,426,086,957.
    2009 – $6,019,565,217.
    2010 – $6,556,188,503.
    2011 – $7,591,921,284.

    Enough to pay for a few nice houses and cars. Not that I am suggesting that a government could be so dishonest, and they would not lie to you about the effects of e
    cigarettes to save a few dollars – would they?

    Another major weakness in the article is that it is wholly based on the assertion that
    there is no evidence – well it is obvious that our two aforementioned academics
    have failed to do any research. In fact they have done about as much as the
    writer of the article. If you want evidence with regard to the safety of e
    cigarettes go to the following.

    And there is a great deal more.

    As final nail in the coffin that this article needs to be laid to rest in, is that it is very odd
    that one of the ‘experts’ works on tuberculosis, and here is the irony, the
    main ingredient in the e cigarette is propylene glycol – a major tool in the
    battle against tuberculosis. That man really needs to get his act together!

  • BarefootVapes

    “E-cigarettes and their refills should not be sold in flavors that are appealing to children,” he said…then does that mean they are going to ban the sales of Coca-Cola, including those flavored with Cherry or Vanilla or Lime? Coca-Cola has caffeine which is actually MORE addictive than nicotine. So where is the outcry to stop the next generation from becoming crabby, cranky jerks if they don’t get their morning cup (or 3) of coffee? Where is the outcry that the poor children are being exposed to chemically treated food products (GMOs)? There has been no evidence in any area of the ENTIRE WORLD that demonstrates that e-cigs are a gateway to combustible tobacco. Where are the studies that show that percentage of middle and highschoolers who have tried e-cigs without ever having tried tobacco first? And how many of them graduate to tobacco cigarettes? The researchers won’t show those statistics because they are ZERO, and that would discredit their opposition to the controversy they are creating out of thin air. Until you can show me PROOF, Globe (and the rest of the people who are too lazy to do the research)…I am my own proof, as are the countless others that have successfully quit using tobacco thanks to this new product. I AM PROOF!!!

  • billy joe bob

    more garbage spouted by someone who has done NO research at all.

  • HufflePuffVapes.Com

    There have been several studies proving the vapor emitted by users of E-Cigarettes is harmless. Take into account the hundreds of studies that prove tobacco smoke to be a cancerous, toxic, air filling hazard and the choice is simple! If you are not a smoker, you should not be using a vape device, but if you already smoke, your health will be greatly improved by switching! Doctors the world over are recommending it to patients as a healthier alternative!

  • AnTar

    Does it mean, cigarettes is safer (and allowed) than ENDS? Do you consider the tar which is contained on the cigarettes and the poison chemicals produced by cigarettes? Do you know what is the impact of nicotine only? Do you recommend that better smoke cigarettes than vape ENDS or PV? C’mon…..this is for smokers who get the healthier alternative!

  • devine

    Dessy Sagita, how about doing some research before submitting stories to newspapers? Are you getting paid by Mr Tobacco? How about an apology here?

    • Max Headroom

      Yes absolutely, devine, this article (and plenty others in regards of other issues) just highlights how the government (and the media) are a mere spokesperson for large corporations (especially since plenty of media is owned or has interests in such large corporations) and disregards its duty to the People of Indonesia which it is supposed to protect and inform correctly.
      So we have all those one-sided “expert” opinions and statements that using e-cigarettes are dangerous but it is not highlighted that even 10 year old kids (surely also due to the massive campaigning of cigarette companies) are after schools standing in droves together at light their kreteks (while teachers are passing by and say nothing), it is told to us that that palm-oil plantations are sustainable and are actually ONLY helping those poor farmers (it’s never about massive profits raked in by the owners of the plantations), we are being told that all those forest fires EVERY single year producing heavy smoke which not only makes thousands of people sick but also grinds the economy in affected areas to a near stop ar ONLY laid by small farmers, we are being told that mud volcanoes are being caused by earthquakes hundreds of kilometres away and days before and NOT because certain drilling measurements were disregarded, and so on and on and on.
      Now, as Henk describes above, police confiscated those e-cigarettes (which in any case would only be bought by a very small percentage of people who are actually able to afford them and would understand the issue) – on which order are they acting? And so there have been over the years plenty reports that police is acting as private army for the interests of large corporations> See Freeport, or when it comes to land issues with large plantation owners taking land form small farmers – in EVERY SINGLE CASE the police stands and protects the interest of the corporations – sometimes going as far as firing – with deadly results – into the crowd of protesters – who are probably even in their rights but are intimidated to give the very same up.

  • henk

    actually wanted to buy it at a place where they sold them here in bandung, they didn’t have them anymore, told me the police took them all saying it was dangerous and not allowed to sell them….

  • Max Headroom

    This is a transparent scientific study conducted by such international top scientists Dr Marlboro, Prof. Philip Morris, Univ.Prof. Sampoerna (who, as many Indonesians just goes by one name), and was sponsored by the Dji-Sam-Soe foundation for a healthier Indonesia.

  • No Nic Chick

    This article is mixing the dangers of cigarettes and forcing those numbers on e-cigarettes. ‘tobacco-related diseases’ is not nicotine. Good title… thats why I am here…. crappy inaccurate article…. that is why most of your comments are calling BS!

  • Bigharry

    For fifty years the medical world has been banging on about TOBACCO smoking and TARS etc in smoke. But in all that research not one word has ever been said about nicotine itself. Nicotine is obviously very addictive but has NEVER been branded as one of the poisons that have been proven to come with tobacco. So its a bit late now for the nannies to start another witch hunt. Sorry guys -the human race has been proven all over the world to need at least one drug to get over the pain of living -just look around. In nicotine we have one that doesn’t cause stupidity and road deaths and violent behaviour, and doesn’t seem to cause anything bad in spite of millions of research dollars spent looking .Electronic cigs and nicotine pills should be encouraged-they are far better than alcohol ,crystal meth. etc etc.

  • gregowynn iteh

    These article COULD NOT regarded as a journalists article because she DOES NOT COVER both side arguments, better do more research! If you lazy enough do the research here are some videos of promenient journalist and scientist on you tube:
    There alot more available in internet if you just do your research, just as simple as google it.