Vapers and smokers are receiving mixed messages about the benefits or otherwise of e-cigarettes in the battle to quit tobacco.
My name is Paul and I am a vaper.
That’s easier to type than to say out loud, as I’m obviously not a vapour. But, just as smoker has become accepted as the noun for someone who smokes, then vaper is the accepted noun for an e-cigarette user.
But the real confusion lies in official advice and contradictory media advice on the health effects of these smoking alternatives.
As new legislation moves to make smoking about as socially acceptable as picking your nose, confusingly, the Government also has vapers in their sights.
Not a week goes by without another Press story highlighting the benefits or the drawbacks of vaping, while the industry continues to expand. The truth of the matter is people’s own experiences say much more than the confused scientific community actually know for a fact.
I started vaping about a year ago. I had recently quit smoking – a habit that had held me in its iron-like fist for 25 years on and off, and I turned to e-cigarettes in a bid to prevent me returning to a cigarette addiction.
Faced with an all-day music event, surrounded by smokers, I knew that temptation would be great. As a weak-minded male, I took the decision to ward off this impending return to a bad habit by choosing the lesser of two evils. I began to vape.
Cigarettes prices have reached epic proportions, and smokers are beginning to realise that vaping is a much cheaper option. I buy a new clearomiser and bottle of liquid (a combined price of just under £10) for my e-cig about once a month. Compare that with the price of smoking for a month and the economic benefit is obvious to anyone who knows that two times two equals four.
Personal experience also tells me that I don’t feel as unhealthy as a vaper than I did as a smoker. I no longer wake up in the middle of the night coughing my guts up and I no longer start wheezing and screaming “I’m going to die” after running for a train (I don’t use the bus, so I need to be honest with my examples), in fact I feel healthier than ever – but the government isn’t so sure.
The science isn’t there you see. The jury is out. So, while the jury is out, the government throws legislation at an expanding industry anyway. Therefore, confusion follows. Do they want people to stop smoking? And do they want an industry to expand?
Personally, I think that anecdotal evidence is a powerful sell when it comes to vaping – I am not the only e-cigarette user that I know who says they feel better than when they smoked and I’ve heard no complaints about passive vaping either. Is passive vaping even a thing? The railway industry seems to think so, as, inexplicably, vaping is not only banned on trains, but at stations too. My friends have actually said they like the smell of my berry-flavoured vape oil – know of nobody that likes the smell of cigarette smoke. Of course, smoke lingers and vapour doesn’t, hence my point is proved.
There is still confusion over when and where you can vape, however, and fellow users have asked if it’s allowed in certain pubs and clubs – I’ve even seen someone ask a security guard who didn’t have a clue at a gig.
Mixed messages don’t help anyone and the Media and government do not help smokers who are deciding whether vaping is a valid tool in helping them break their addiction. I believe it is. But until the science is there are cannot see the position of either party changing.
I think the real reason for the confusion is the eternal question; “is vaping a gateway to smoking?”
While it definitely is a gateway out of smoking, I think the social stigma and rising costs associated with tobacco mean that the reverse is highly unlikely.
As a conclusion, and for clarification, new rules of vaping been e-cig companies can’t draw comparisons between tobacco and vaping, can’t claim vaping is beneficial to people’s health, can’t use celebrities to endorse their products or give away free samples to promote them.
E-cigarettes must be child-proof and tamper-proof (common sense that one really) and about 30 per cent of the product’s packaging must contain a warning stating “This product contains nicotine which is a highly addictive substance.” Something 99.9 per cent of people know anyway. Companies are also required to tell the government what exactly is in their oils before they can sell them in the UK too. The size of refill containers are now capped at 10ml and disposable e-cigs have a 2ml cap. The maximum strength of vaping liquid has been reduced for 24mg of nicotine per ml to 20.