Gone are the days of packing in smoking by wearing a patch on your arm, chewing on some ridiculously overpriced chewing gum or just simply going cold turkey. Nowadays everyone is trading in their pack of smokes for an e-cigarette – the newest piece of quitting smoking paraphernalia.
It is estimated that around 2 million people in Britain are users of e-cigarettes, with around 700,000 of them using them instead of traditional cigarettes and the rest being made up of people who use a combination of the two.
There’s something about these devices that has really taken a hold of society nowadays and a £2 billion industry seems to have just appeared out of thin air (or smoke, if you will).
But, contrary to the popular belief that e-cigarettes are some kind of ‘miracle cure’ for the problems of smoking, things aren’t quite as simple as they first appear.
In no way do I want to suggest that e-cigarettes are not an improvement on the problems caused by smoking tobacco, but rather to explore the ways in which e-cigarettes may still be posing a threat to your health.
The most damaging health effects from smoking cigarettes comes from the inhaling of tar and other chemicals that are found in the cigarette smoke. E-cigarettes just provide the user with a dose of nicotine, completely removing these other threats. But nicotine is not without its own problems.
First and foremost, it is highly addictive. Users of e-cigarettes must be careful to select the correct nicotine strength and to ensure that they don’t overuse their device, otherwise it can be very easy to consume more nicotine than you previously did with cigarettes and to become even more addicted to it.
Aside from the health problems caused by nicotine, there have been many other concerns as to what chemicals are present in the act of vaping with an e-cigarette.
According to analysis by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the tobacco solution used in e-cigarettes contains harmful chemicals such as diethylene glycol, a component of antifreeze that’s toxic to humans and is banned in food and drugs.
Cancer causing chemicals such as nitrosamines have also been found in the liquid, alongside other toxic chemicals that the user might inhale.
The long term effects of e-cigarettes are a long way off rearing their ugly heads, so not much can be known for certain about how these chemicals will affect the users, but it doesn’t sound too promising.
The biggest problem overall with e-cigarettes is the lack of regulation. They are primarily a product whose sole purpose is to get its user addicted to a substance. There is no patent or meaningful regulations, so they can be advertised in any way that a company chooses, producing adverts that are eerily similar to those that came out back when positive cigarette advertising was still legal.
Plus, ever since it was made illegal to smoke cigarettes in enclosed public spaces in 2007, disgruntled smokers have been forced to smoke outside. Since this law doesn’t extend to the use of e-cigarettes indoors, it has become not an uncommon sight to see someone using theirs inside.
There is a fear that without proper regulation, the act of smoking (in its widest sense) will begin to become re-popularised. It has already been noted that 1/20 teenagers who have used an e-cigarette have never smoked traditional cigarettes before.
This may not seem like a large statistic at first, but it is important to understand that although they are safer than smoking tobacco, e-cigarettes themselves still do pose a threat to your health.