Where there’s a smoke…

Whether you like them or not, it seems e-cigarettes are here to stay. Vaping sticks seem to be an ever-present subject in the media, and people can’t really decide if they’re safe or not, healthier than old-school cigarettes – or just plain dangerous.

For many years now there’s been a variety of ways to quit smoking. Smokers wanting to lay off the ciggies can be seen chewing gums, wearing patches, and sucking deeply on plastic nicotine dispensers.

In the past few years, though, the electronic cigarette has become more and more visible in the smoking community. These cylinder-like cigarettes provide the smoker with the same satisfaction as the old school version.

E-cigs consist of a battery, a cartridge filled with nicotine, a solution of the organic compound propylene glycol – which retains a faintly sweet taste – or glycerine mixed with water, and an atomiser which turns the solution into an aerosol or a vapour; hence the term vaping.

“It’s the habit of smoking that people are so attached to and what keeps it going.” -Zoltan Kore

As the user inhales this solution it lets the smoker get the same nicotine hit but eliminates the tar and toxins found in traditional cigarettes.This seems to be the crucial factor that makes the difference between traditional cigarettes and e-cigarettes.

Yet no-one really knows how to tackle the rise of the vaping community. Many vapers have been allowed to smoke in places that have been off territory for their fellow old-school smokers – on trains, planes and everywhere else in between.

And for the same reason, the vaping market has thrived.

Recently the London Evening Standard published an article about the emerging vape empire, examining how cafés and shops (which resemble old-fashioned tobacco shops) are enjoying this market prosperity.

These cafés offer everything, even a detailed customer consultation on how to find the perfect ‘fit’ – through a variety of different products varying between stick, battery and flavour.

This follows on from the substantial rise of vapers in recent years. Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) estimates there are currently around 2.1 million adult vapers in Great Britain. Of these vapers, 1.3 million continue to use tobacco as well.

Smoke No Smoke is one of the reinvented tobacco shops and they too feel the rise in the industry. Zoltan Kore works in the Camden branch, one of six stores around the country: “Mainly, I think it’s down to the fact that there is more and more information about the product.”

His view is that most people switching to e-cigarettes aren’t necessarily doing it in order to quit smoking entirely and that “it’s more of a healthier alternative to smoking.”

Some smokers who have gone electronic are starting to see the downside in the mist of the vape. In a piece for the Telegraph Rachael Lloyd admitted that after joining the other vapers, she ended up smoking the equivalent of 40 cigarettes a day.

Now health warnings concerning e-cigarettes are spreading like wildfire – ironic given the main reason for vaping given to ASH was to reduce the amount of smoking.

A recently published study shows that dangerous emissions from certain flavourings found in e-cigarettes can damage the lungs. The research found that lung cells can become inflamed from the impact of vaping.

“They might not be the best thing in the world but still a better alternative.” -Zoltan Kore

Amongst the flavours available, cinnamon proved to be one of the most harmful e-liquids, and sweeter flavours were more damaging than straight nicotine.

The World Health Organisation has already called for e-cigarettes to be banned indoors after their resident experts warned that the product could pose a threat to young people and unborn babies.

However tobacco health experts later attacked the WHO report in an article in the journal Addiction saying that the report was misleading and that e-cigarettes still are much safer than regular cigarettes.

Many places have already taken the WHO ban into consideration and vapers are starting to get the same treatment as regular smokers, although Zoltan Kore doesn’t think this will have a negative effect on the vape industry: “it’s the habit of smoking that people are so attached to and what keeps it going.”

He adds that e-cigarettes are saving the lives of former smokers and believes that a stricter regulation on the production could have a positive effect, but could also result in the bigger companies taking over the industry.

Despite health concerns and restrictions Kore believes that vaping is still a helpful aid for people to either stop or cut down on smoking: “they might not be the best thing in the world but still a better alternative.”

 

Featured image by TBEC Review via Flickr