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Epidemic of  E-cigarettes Among Teenagers

In recent years, e-cigarettes have gained widespread popularity and have become a trend that has spread particularly among teenagers and young people, like an epidemic spreading rapidly among teenagers. E-cigarettes are also easier to use and more convenient to use than cigarettes anywhere, anytime. Specialist doctors have warned against the dangers of facing this phenomenon.

Abdulkareem Abbas Alkhoori, a grocery owner, emphasises that many grocery stores sell e-cigarette, even though they are banned from being sold in grocery stores in the UAE. If the municipality reveals that they will be fined. One of his workers suggested bringing it because they are very profitable. Teenagers from 13-16 years old buy them a lot. However, he refused to do so as he said ‘’our children are our responsibility and we do not want to harm them’’.

Rashid Muhammad the guardian of a high school student, urged for better supervision of grocery stores to prevent them from selling e-cigarettes. He noticed that his son uses, he added, grocery store owners only care about making a few bucks at the expense of the health of the buyer. Rashid said, "They must emphasise on them to not sell vape again and strict fines must be imposed." 

Saif Al-Sayari prefers e-cigarette to traditional ones because it has a lighter smell and also to avoid smoking at home despite not smoking often, due to concerns about affecting his children. Smoking is primarily linked to his emotional state, as he uses it to cope with sadness from family disputes and the stress of his job as a firefighter, where he witnesses burn victims.

Maryam Al Shamsi, an employee, expresses concern about her husband's use of e-cigarette due to the negative effects she's observing. He finds them convenient, but experiences shortness of breath, coughing, and a negative impact on his mood. He seems addicted to nicotine, as quitting leads to mood swings and nervousness throughout the day.

Al Shamsi points out that while e-cigarette have a mildew smell compared to traditional cigarettes.

Obaid Al Kaabi admits, "My friends coaxed me to try e-cigarettes. Although hesitant at first due to fear of my father's reaction, I eventually gave in. Now, I deeply regret that decision. The initial allure has faded, replaced by a constant feeling of unease and a growing concern about the potential health risks."

When mathematics teacher Noura Al-Raisi found out that her students were using e-cigarette, she referred them to a specialist in the school to find out why they were dizzy and to understand their situation in the surrounding environment, whether at school or at home, to provide guidance and advice. Her two students, one 15 years old and the other 17, one of them was going through family problems and seeking experimentation, while the other was influenced by social media and bad company, and tried to understand her students and get closer to them. She kept talking to them and getting to know the problems and worries they were going through to make them feel safe and give up the poison that was destroying their bodies. 

Dr. Bassam Mahboub, a consultant pulmonologist, stressed the need to tighten penalties on any merchant who sells or facilitates the sale of e-cigarettes to teenagers and children. This comes especially after studies have proven that they can cause death in young people. He called for a total ban on the sale of these products to anyone under the age of 21. He stated that "many young users of electronic smoking devices visit clinics due to symptoms such as recurrent colds and chest infections."

A graduate of the UAE University Ferdous Shamlan in the Department of Psychology mentioned that addiction has different types. If we talk about cigarette addiction, it starts with curiosity or bad company, and so on until it continues and reaches addiction.

Addiction can be unintentional. An example of this is tranquilisers that some people take to relieve pain or insomnia. 

She added, the environment surrounding the individual also affects them. If he sees his father, uncle, or anyone older than him, he looks at him as a role model and is influenced by him and uses cigarettes.

She mentioned that preventing teenagers from smoking is difficult, and the suffering is greater. In psychology, it is always said to parents that adults should be good role models for their children and that they should behave correctly in front of them. They are raised on what they see.

She confirmed bad influences from peers also plays a big role, and the stereotype that has spread about smoking is that it is a comfort and creates  spiritual calmness. There is a term in psychology called "escape from reality." Individuals who reject their reality and go through problems that make them smokers.

Lack of self-control and poor emotional control are among the causes of addiction. Not accepting reality and solving the problem by smoking are what make them reach the stage of addiction.

Some people put cigarettes as a nerve relaxant that they always carry with them, seeing it as the best solution, although the future risks are worse.

E-cigarettes are quick and easy to use, so they are preferred over regular cigarettes. The psychological impact of e-cigarettes is greater than that of regular cigarettes.

Shamlan said “I advise every addict to look at himself and challenge himself. If this poison enters your body ten times a day, reduce it gradually to stay away from it. The biggest mistake that some smokers make is sudden withdrawal”. According to Pavlov's theory, if a person quits smoking suddenly without gradual withdrawal, he will be exposed to symptoms of hallucinations, mood swings, negative reactions, and internal damage, among others. Therefore, it is necessary to be careful about this point.

In 2021, a study was conducted on non-smokers and regular smokers. Adult volunteers aged 21 to 33 were divided into three groups. The first group consisted of 11 non-smokers, the second group consisted of nine tobacco smokers, and the third group consisted of nine e-cigarette smokers. The three groups participated in a 30-minute e-cigarette smoking session.

Through this experiment, the researchers were able to observe an increase in oxidative stress levels among non-smokers. However, the study authors found that "tobacco and e-cigarette smokers did not experience an increase in oxidative stress," which the team believes is because "the baseline level of oxidative stress in smokers is already high compared to non-smokers."

The researchers found that a 30-minute "vaping" session increases oxidative stress in non-smokers' cells by two to four times. 

The research team notes that they still need to determine how these oxidative stress-related changes occur, and whether they are related to nicotine or other chemicals that enter the smoker's body.

From her side, the legal consultant from the legal department Noura Al Ali said that Federal Law No. (51) of 2009 Article (6) prohibits the display or sale of tobacco products except in places designated for that purpose and licensed by the competent authority. The executive regulations of this law shall determine the controls for the display and sale of tobacco products. The role of the municipality for taking action against violators of these laws and setting a limit for them and monitoring them from time to time.

Edited by Chloe Mansola

E-Cigarette by vaping360 is licensed under CC BY 2.0 DEED

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