Published on February 26, 2013 | by Rowan Curtis

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Relight my fire

Woman smoking an electronic cigarette

Electronic cigarrettes are becoming increasingly popular amongst smokers. [image: Michael Dorausch]

The bitterly cold weather can make nipping outside for a cigarette more of a painful chore than a pleasurable and stress-releasing exercise.

It is perhaps for this reason that many smokers are choosing to adopt more novel ways to combat their craving, all in the warm comfort of the indoors.

You could be forgiven for thinking you have gone back in time when confronted with the sight of people puffing away on luminous sticks in smoke-filled bars, either that or your local is defiantly flouting the strict smoking ban that has been in place since 2007.

But it is more likely that you are viewing the growing use of electronic cigarettes that have surged in popularity in recent years with more and more smokers taking them up in attempt to fight the addiction.

Outside London’s busiest train stations, it is difficult not to notice people with clipboards accosting smokers and promising the solution to kick the habit that claims the lives of approximately 100,000 people a year in the UK alone.

Costs

They can also be spotted in shopping centres and university fairs across the land, trying to persuade youngsters of the health benefits of swapping regular cigarettes for their electronic cousins. But could they also be more financially sound for ever money-conscious students?

Louis Cook of The Electronic Cigarette Company said, “It would be safe to say that electronic cigarettes users do save money in comparison to tobacco smokers with savings of anything up to 80 per cent of their annual expenditure.

“While the transition to electronic cigarettes can appear costly at first, once you have the kit/components needed, the remainder of the upkeep is attributed to e-liquid cost and replacement components as and when necessary.”

“Electronic cigarettes do not contain the tar, ash or tobacco that traditional cigarettes do.” Dr Susan Smith

There have been questions raised over their safety and effectiveness. After all, they have not been NHS approved unlike patches and other nicotine-based products. However Cook argues that his company’s products carry very few health risks.

“With regards to safety, our e-liquid contains only propylene, vegetable glycerin and pharmaceutical grade diluents used in a number of products such as cosmetics, food and nicotine – which at safe concentrations have been proven to be nothing more than a stimulant and there is no research against it causing harm in low doses.

“Electronic cigarettes replicate the sensation of smoking without any of the hundreds of known toxins contained within tobacco,” he said.

However, whether electronic cigarettes are completely harmless is a subject that has divided doctors and health experts since their rise in mainstream popularity.

Risks

Dr Susan Smith who has devoted much research into anti-smoking devices said, “Electronic cigarettes do not contain the tar, ash or tobacco that traditional cigarettes do.

“But keep in mind, these e-cigarettes still contain nicotine, so they are not 100 per cent safe – but safer than tobacco products. However, no stinky smell is associated with using these e-cigarettes, so you don’t have to go around smelling like a smoker anymore.

“This also helps to eliminate other issues caused by smoking such as stained teeth, yellow fingers and bad breath.”

“I’ve probably spent more on electronic cigarettes than I would have on normal cigarettes as they don’t seem to fully satisfy the need for nicotine.” Pierre Smith Stewart

Dr Smith recommends buying electronic cigarettes from companies which have been verified by individual doctors and experts, as some products available have notable risks attached.

“There are an amazing amount of low quality electronic cigarettes from China on the market today. They are simply harmful and mislead people,” she explained.

Cut down

Pierre Smith Stewart, 21, Technical Arts and Special Effects student at Wimbledon College of Arts, has been smoking electronic cigarettes for two months and is undecided as to whether they have benefited him so far.

“I eventually want to give up full stop, but they certainly have helped me cut down.

“However I’ve probably spent more on electronic cigarettes than I would have on normal cigarettes as they don’t seem to fully satisfy the need for nicotine and you can end up smoking it much longer than you would a normal cigarette.”

He continued: “But I do quite like the fact that you can smoke them in bars and pubs, it’s like the good old days before the smoking ban.”

So it would seem that most electronic cigarettes are safer than real ones, but not as safe as not smoking at all. Whether or not they do in fact save money is also still debatable.

But perhaps like most addictions, half the battle is in the mind and the replication of a real cigarette that you can smoke indoors is why electronic cigarettes have such an appeal, and could lead the way in the battle to give up completely.

 

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