The practice of smoking dates back to ancient times – tobacco and various hallucinogenic drugs reportedly smoked as early as 5000 BC in shamanistic rituals. In Ancient Greece smoke was used in healing, and later in North America ‘peace pipes’ were offered to other tribes and European settlers as a goodwill gesture.
In more modern times, cigarettes were considered cool and sexy, their relaxing effects widely enjoyed by many, the act of smoking often considered amongst adolescents as a right of passage towards adulthood. Sportsmen promoted cigarettes, which were advertised all over the television, while iconic film actors made smoking look ultra cool and fashionable.
Dated And Deadly…
Today, however, it is not so cool. With medical knowledge highlighting the significant dangers of smoking, it is now increasingly viewed as a nasty addictive habit that not only makes your environment and clothes smell bad, but can actually kill you and others around you! With tobacco killing approximately 443,000 Americans every year (according to the US Center for Disease Control), it is no surprise that now you won’t see cigarettes advertised anywhere, and gone are the days when you could light up in any restaurant or bar. Smoking bans now mean that smokers can no longer indulge their habit in public buildings.
I Can’t Get No Satisfaction!
Apparently around seven in ten smokers would like to quit, and many try, though only a small percentage actually manage to kick the habit. This is not only down to the addictive drugs such as nicotine, but also the simple fact that many smokers enjoy the act itself, finding it a pleasurable, satisfying oral fixation – not to meantion a welcome break from work! Nicotine gum and patches are no substitute for the actual act of smoking. If you’re caught somewhere between worrying about the health risks and enjoying that addictive little stick, there is a lot of buzz around a potentially superior, healthier alternative product…
Vaping — Not Such A Vice…
Invented in the Sixties, though developed in recent years, and starting to make its way into the mainstream, the e-cigarette contains no tobacco and no tar, as well as being free from nearly all other harmful substances found in normal cigarettes. Not to be confused with the inferior disposable kind, e-cigarettes are nifty little contraptions that can look similar to a normal cigarette, but are also available in stylishly different colours like silver and black. They mimick the tobacco product, in that they make smoke, though it is not called smoking, it is ‘vaping’ – new terminology for a new product! Could the e-cigarette represent smoking of the future, leaving the traditional cigarette behind as a thing of the past? Might everyone one day be vaping in place of smoking?
Inside The E-Cigarette!
E-cigarettes comprise several different parts:
- Rechargeable lithium-ion battery — forms the largest part of the e-cigarette, dictating how long you can vape before re-charging.
- Cartomizer — screws on to the battery and is where you put your mouth. It contains the heating element (‘atomizer’) which boils the ‘e-liquid’ inside, creating vapour.
- E-liquid — is made primarily from propylene glycol, mixed with ingredients and varying in nicotine potency. It needs to be refilled (any e-liquid can refill any cartomizer), and comes in an array of flavours, including menthol, cinnamon, vanilla, grape, watermelon, and atomic fireball, as well as those that mimic the flavour of different cigarette brands.
- PCC — portable charging case contains a larger battery that can recharge the e-cigarette battery, making it easier to vape on the go!
- LED — serves as the ‘cherry’ lighting up the end of the e-cigarette, though the colour doesn’t have to be orange, it can be white, blue, green, yellow etc!
The Pull Of Vaping…
Vaping is designed to mimick regular smoking. Basically, when you take a ‘drag,’ a sensor turns the battery on, which triggers the heating element, creating vapour from the liquid (with some e-cigarettes a button replaces the sensor). The vapour enters your mouth and lungs, and when you stop pulling the vapour stops, so pulling slowly creates the most vapour – unlike conventional cigarettes which produce more smoke the harder you pull. When less vapour is being produced by the e-cigarette, you simply replace the battery with a newly charged one, or refill the e-liquid in the cartomizer, or both!
- Charging of batteries — the inconvenience of having to keep batteries fully charged with either USB, wall or car charger, or PCC is the main downside affecting the user experience. But if you keep a spare battery fully charged then this needn’t hinder you too much.
- Availability — as e-cigarettes aren’t yet enjoyed by the masses, they are not readily available in most shops, so you have to order them in advance, which could leave you caught short on occasion!
- Attention — still considered somewhat novel by many, vaping in public might draw attention from those curious about it!
- Unknown element — the FDA says that e-cigarettes “may contain ingredients that are known to be toxic to humans”. Though e-cigarettes are still considered much safer than tobacco products – the Harm Reduction Journal pointing out that the toxicity levels of e-cigarettes “are highly unlikely to have any possible significance to users”.
- Significantly lesser evil — with no tar and just a fraction of the unhealthy chemicals found in most normal cigarettes, e-cigarettes are, according to the Journal Of Public Health, “much safer than tobacco cigarettes”.
- No undesirable alienating smell!
- You can vape almost anywhere, inlcuding bars and restaurants!
- You can sit ‘chain vaping’ without stinking the place up, or take just a couple of puffs (unlike a cigarette which is normally all smoked in one go).
- May help you give up smoking altogether — bridging the gap between smoking tobacco cigarettes and not smoking at all!
- You may enjoy feeling all modern — futuristic even — but you’ll certainly feel that you’re at the forefront of a new trend!
- Healthier on the wallet — smoking the equivalent amount in e-cigarettes will likely cost you significantly less than traditional tobacco cigarettes!
Verdict On Vaping…
The jury is still out regarding the full consequences of vaping e-cigarettes, so we can’t assume they are a totally risk-free alternative to tobacco cigarettes. Of course, the healthiest option would be to quit smoking altogether, inhaling nothing but natures purest air! But then there are plenty of things that aren’t necessarily good for us, but that represent virtually no health risk, particularly when consumed in moderation – at the end of the day we want to live a little! So taking into account the almost limitless benefits of e-cigarettes over conventional cigarettes, vaping is the clear choice, apparently providing a much healthier and less costly alternative to smoking, or even a stepping stone to quitting altogether! Yes there will be those die-hard tobacco smokers who refuse to smoke anything but a ‘real cigarette’, deeming e-cigarettes as gimmicky. But then perhaps the term ‘die-hard’ is apt here, given the number of deaths at the hands of tobacco.