Disposable vapers cause e-cigarette use to rise
After electronic cigarettes came onto the market a few years ago and became very fashionable, now the boom of disposable vapers. At the end of the day it is the same, but in a simpler version, to use and throw away. While the first models are more expensive, you have to constantly fill them with liquid and you have to charge their battery, to consume the new ones you just have to open the box and start vacuuming. They cost around 10 euros and have a defined number of puffs, which is usually between 400 and 800, with which they can fulfill their function for a week, and more or less, of course, depending on how they are used. Once worn out, it is thrown away and a new one is bought. According to data from Salut, 45% of young people between 14 and 18 years old have tried electronic cigarettes at least once.
With a wide variety of flavours, and with the option of choosing them with or without nicotine, the disposable vaper has become a fashionable product, especially among the youngest. It can be found in tobacconists, but also in all kinds of stores, such as grocery stores, hardware stores or gas stations, so that minors, for whom its consumption is prohibited, have greater access to them. Even many people who don't smoke tobacco have started using these new e-cigarettes, either because of their flavors and aromas or because it's new.
All this has created a climate of alert among experts in the field of health, doctors and psychologists, who in addition to ensuring that there are already signs that the consumption of these vapers has negative consequences for health, defend that it opens the door to tobacco use. At the same time, there are several associations in defense of these products that place it as a good alternative to smoking.
"It is true that it is something relatively new and the consequences that consuming vapers can have in the medium and long term are not yet known, but there have already been some cases of lipoid pneumonia when the substances they carry are deposited in the lungs," he says. Xavier Aguilar, Cap de Servei de Pneumología de l'Hospital Joan XXIII de Tarragona and member of the Col·legi Oficial de Metges de Tarragona (COMT). In this sense, Aguilar assures that "when you vape you do not actually inhale steam, but when the device is heated, a series of microparticles are nebulized, the composition of which is not very detailed in many cases." He says, in relation to this, that some tests found nicotine in a vaper that, according to the prospectus, did not have it.
However, the pulmonologist insists that there is a joint impression in the world of medicine that these products are not good, and thinks that "it will be a matter of time before the anomalies they cause appear, beyond the fact that in the short term they are already problems have been detected.
Vargas believes that vapers cannot be taken as a substitute for tobacco, on the contrary, he maintains that over time it can encourage the consumption of conventional cigarettes. An opinion also shared by Josep Maria Suelves, a psychologist specializing in tobacco and addictions, and a member of the Grup de Treball de Conductes addictives of the Col·legi Oficial de Psicologia de Catalunya. “It is a product that mimics the use of tobacco, which is surely a gateway to it,” says the psychologist. And neither does he see it as a possible substitute for tobacco, as the pro-vaper associations defend: «This rarely happens, since it usually happens that smokers who intentionally want to replace tobacco with a vaper with nicotine continue with a global consumption, alternating both products, and this is a missed opportunity for a person motivated to stop smoking that prolongs their problem.
The variety of flavors and the ease of use are the keys to the success of the throwaway vaper
Suelves is also concerned about the low perception of risk among young people, who, he says, "think they are inhaling vapor, when this is not the case, and see the vaper, due to its flavors and aromas, as a candy". In this sense, the psychologist highlights that electronic cigarettes "have flavorings that were banned in tobacco at the time because it was considered to be a hook for adolescents."
Tobacconists confirm that the fashion for disposable vapers has hit much harder than that of electronic cigarettes a few years ago. Edu Gibert, owner of the Riera de Gaià tobacconist, assures that he sells about 50 a week: «Most are customers who combine it with tobacco, to smoke in the car, for example, and that the bad smell does not remain ». Gibert also explains that every two times three new brands come out, another sign that the product is at its peak.
Exclusive sale in tobacconists?
It also confirms the boom Sergi Sarlé, tobacconist from Tarragona and vice-president of the Gremi d'Estanquers de Tarragona, who points out that its use is widespread, especially among young people. For his part, he demands that only the sale of vapers be allowed in tobacconists: «This way you will have greater sanitary control, greater traceability and there will be the guarantee that they are not sold to minors». Along these lines, Sarlé comments that tobacco consumption has fallen a lot in recent years, without updating the profit margins of tobacconists and in a context of inflation where all expenses are rising: «We are losing profits, and that a product like this is sold only in tobacconists would help us to recover them».
In fact, the new Anti-Tobacco Law in which the Government of Spain is working introduced a series of measures aimed at legally equating vapers with cigarettes, including exclusive sale in tobacconists, a proposal that for now has been rejected by the National Commission of Markets and Competition (CNMC). With the draft bill, the Ministry of Finance gave vaper establishments five years to close the business, but Competition has refused because it considers that these products "should have their own regulation and adjusted to their characteristics."