According to the New Straits Times on August 18, a research report by a research team from the School of Medicine and Life Sciences at Sunway University in Malaysia shows that the use of e-cigarettes among Malaysian youth has increased from 9.8% in 2017 to 14.9% in 2022.
The report was written by five researchers, including LOOK KEYUN and DR SER HOOI LENG, from Sunway University’s School of Medicine and Life Sciences. E-cigarette liquids contain chemicals such as nicotine, propylene glycol (PG), vegetable glycerin (VG), flavorings, dyes, coolants, and other undisclosed ingredients, the study said.
Researchers at Sunway University analyzed 10 e-cigarette liquid brands and found that 70 percent of them contained higher PG content than indicated on the label.
More worryingly, 80 percent of the samples contained traces of ammonia, a chemical found in a variety of products, such as fertilizers, hair dyes and plastics.
It is important to note that the rate at which nicotine is absorbed in the lungs may vary depending on the chemicals added to e-cigarette liquids, and substances such as formaldehyde, alcohol, ammonia, and acids may change the way nicotine “interacts” with our body systems, potentially increasing the risk of addiction.
The researchers said in the report that it is necessary for e-cigarette users to be aware of how these ingredients can adversely affect the lungs and respiratory system.
For example, the ratio of PG to VG can affect the feel of e-cigarettes, and PG provides a unique “throat-beating sensation” due to its thinner concentration. But when these compounds are heated, they can produce toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde and volatile organic compounds.
Prolonged exposure to harmful volatile compounds may damage the lungs, leading to conditions such as e-cigarette use-related lung injury (Evali) and popcorn lung (bronchobronchitis).
E-cigarette users should be vigilant about what they inhale, the report said.
“The public needs to be aware that unlike the digestive system, which can eliminate harmful substances through mechanisms such as vomiting or diarrhea, our lungs lack this capacity.”
In addition, the undisclosed chemical composition and inconsistent ingredient lists highlight the need for Malaysian health authorities to strengthen regulation through strict product registration and post-marketing monitoring.