10 things you need to know about e-cigarettes

e-cigarettes, e-cigs, vaping, electronic cigarettes
E-cigarettes are becoming ever more popular and a store devoted solely to selling e- cigarettes and associated paraphernalia opened recently in a shopping centre nearby to me, so there must be a profit to be made from them too. I have to admit that I am one of those hypocrites who has been smoking tobacco since and an early age and yet regularly tell my kids never to touch the stuff. I know it’s bad for my health and, these days, it even makes you bit of social outcast too, but I still have no intention of walking around puffing steam from a big stick!

E- Cigarettes are a strange thing really, when you think about it. They are, after all, just a more acceptable way of taking what is, after all, a highly addictive drug called nicotine. Even though e-cigarettes have been around for a while now, and they are obviously becoming very popular, very little is known about the long term effects that they might cause. Could this turn out the same story as tobacco, which was also once thought to be perfectly harmless? Well, I thought I’d do a bit more digging and find out more, so here are ten facts about e-cigarettes that I didn’t know.

1. E-cigarettes have been around since 1963
The first e-cigarette was invented and patented in 1963 by American, Herbert A. Gilbert and his original design did not contain any nicotine. It was a pharmacist in China who is credited with the first commercialising the idea in 2003, and then various brands of electronic cigarettes found their way the US in 2007 and the idea became popular.

2. There is no smoke at all with an electronic cigarette
The big plus to e-cigarettes is that there is no smoke and no tobacco in them at all, they are battery operated nicotine inhalers, but that wouldn’t look so good on the packaging would it!  No smoke means no carbon monoxide and other crap that comes out of a tobacco cigarette, hence the claims that they are much better for your health.

3. Vaping is cheaper than smoking tobacco
Vaping, that’s what smoking an electronic cigarette is called apparently, is much cheaper than smoking tobacco. Manufacturers claim that the total cost over a year of using e-cigarettes is nearly half that of the cost of smoking tobacco.

4. You can’t use electronic cigarettes in pubs and restaurants
There is no law in the UK against vaping in public places, but you try and puff away in a pub and you will most likely be asked to stop. There is no smoke, so there is no passive smoking problem, but it would just cause confusion over the no smoking rules, so most pubs simply don’t allow either. In other words, you vapour inhalers are still out in the cold with us old fashioned smokers!

5. Electronic cigarettes do not help you quit smoking
The evidence to support the use of e-cigarettes as an aid to giving up smoking is still inconclusive. My own, purely circumstantial, evidence is that it does not. Surely you are simply replacing one bad habit with another and also, I have been asked by e-cig users, on numerous occasions, if they could have “just one” my tobacco cigarettes.

6. Most of them still do contain nicotine
You can get nicotine-free liquids to go in e-cigarettes, but mostly they do contain nicotine. It is, therefore, still a legalised way of taking an addictive drug and one does have to wonder if that would have been allowed, if was not for the fact that it does provide a means of harm reduction for tobacco smokers.

7. They are not without their own health concerns
The stories of e-cigarettes blowing up aside, there are concerns about the liquid form of nicotine that electronic cigarettes contain. As little as one teaspoon of many of the e-cigarette liquids on the market would kill a child if they ingested it and a tablespoon would kill an adult. This is not just scaremongering either, the reported cases of nicotine poisoning from e-cigarette liquid is on the increase.

8. E-cigarettes are banned in some countries
Not all countries, it seems, are entirely convinced that electronic cigarettes are completely harmless, and they have been banned in several countries including Austria, Argentina and Brazil. Other countries have varying controls over the sale of e-cigarettes and over the advertising of them.

9. They could encourage children to smoke tobacco
Currently in the UK, there is no restriction in children buying e-cigarettes other than a voluntary code of practice for retailers. The UK government has said that it will introduce a statutory minimum age limit of 18 for the purchase of e-cigarettes, but the fear is that e-cigs could still encourage children to start smoking.

10. So, are e-cigarettes a bad thing?
I’m a great believer in live and let live and, so long as it harms no one else, then why not? Smoking kills and that’s a fact and I would go ape if I caught one of my kids smoking. I would be equally unhappy, though, if I found out they had been using electronic cigarettes, because it is still a drug, it’s still very addictive and, only time will tell if it’s really safe or not.

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