Thursday, April 03, 2014

The controversial e-cigarette

Wales has decided to ban the use of electronic cigarettes in public places, why? They say that it is in a bid to encourage smokers to quit altogether but is that realistic? As it stands, there is no law banning the use of these devices although most airlines do say you cannot use them on their planes.

E-cigarettes contain nicotine suspended in a propylene glycol solution. A battery is used to vaporise the solution thus giving off the nicotine. Apart from the nicotine shot, there is also a puff of white smoke which is akin to that used in theatres. Without the tar and other toxins produced when tobacco is burnt, they are healthier for the smoker. There is also evidence to show that there is no harmful effect on others who sit by someone using an e-cigarette.

Of course, there is not enough evidence to show that these things are not harmful in some way but at least they are infinitely less harmful than cigarettes and are a good way to quit smoking -a percentage of people who switch to e-cigarettes eventually give up the habit altogether.

I haven't tried them myself but I did once buy nicotine patches. I went for the strongest ones available in the hope that they would make my journey on planes more endurable.

First issue, I waited until I got to the airport to apply the patch – big mistake! The patches come in packets that need to be opened with scissors. After a real struggle, I did manage to open the packet and applied the patch. Perhaps by then it was too late because I will still craving for my pipe all the way back to Spain and as soon as I got out of the airport, I ripped the patch off and lit up.

The main fear surrounding e-cigarettes is that they may become fashionable amongst non- smokers and particularly amongst the young. For me though, this is just another example of the nanny state hoping to protect us from ourselves.

The big issue for governments is of course tax. In the UK, more than 75 per cent of the cost of a packet of 20 tobacco cigarettes goes in tax – compared with 20 per cent VAT on an e-cigarette. Smokers are realising that they can get the equivalent of a £7.75 pack's worth of nicotine from an e-cigarette costing as little £1. It is inconceivable, with a market for a new drug delivery device on this scale, that governments will resist the opportunity to raise extra tax. Once they have done that, they may decide e-cigarettes are not such a bad thing after all.

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