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What are e-cigarettes?

An electronic cigarette, or an e-cigarette/e-cig (same thing), may or may not look similar to a traditional cigarette but the big difference is that they're effectively an electronic inhaler powered by a battery.

The battery heats up something inside which in turn heats up and vaporises a liquid (called an e-liquid, oe e-juice) into an aerosol mist, or a vapour.

An electronic cigarette simulates the act of smoking traditional tobacco cigarettes and it even has a vapour that looks like smoke!

There're no tobacco in electronic cigarettes, instead, if you want nicotine, the user chooses an e-liquid that contains nicotine.

Electronic cigarettes v traditional cigarettes - this is the difference:

  • Electronic cigarettes heat up a liquid to produce a vapour (looks like smoke)
  • Traditional cigarettes burn tobacco and produce real smoke

Some electronic cigarettes have been designed to look and feel very similar to traditional cigarettes, others look hi-tech and gadgety and their size and shape won't feel like a traditional cigarette at all.

There are often several different parts that all fit together to form the sort of electronic cigarette that you would re-fill and use time and time again. Bits wear out but to make it last as long as possible it needs to looked after, cleaned and maintained.

Are e-cigarettes safe?

The exact benefits and risks of using electronic cigarettes are subject of uncertainty among health organisations.

E-cigarettes have become very popular in a very short period of time and there is a lack of scientific proof available in order to be able to conclusively demonstrate and evidence the benefits and risks associated with smoking e-cigarettes.

There is scientific research that has concluded that e-cigarettes are generally healthier than smoking traditional cigarettes (think most people would agree with that anyway), and one study concluded that the risks are equivalent to those of using nicotine patches.

However, the nicotine in patches is absorbed through the skin whereas when you draw on an e-cigarette you inhale the nicotine and flavourings into your lungs, so this comparison seems unsound in our opinion.

How safe are e-cigarettes?

Well, that all depends on the quality and the ingredients in the liquid that's being vapourised in the e-cigarette.

The quality of liquids will vary, as with anything, and there will be inferior liquids, therefore you can't assume all electronic cigarette smoking has the same level of risk.

The electronic cigarette is a relatively new product which has suddenly taken the UK, USA and Europe by storm. As a discerning supplier of electronic cigarettes, we welcome further conclusive studies, research and recommendations about the use of electronic cigarettes (and the liquids that we inhale in particular) and we want everyone concerned about our nations’ health (including the NHS and our GPs) on board and working for a common good.

We also welcome further published research about electronic cigarettes in order to avoid any misconceptions, and to underpin the reputation of electronic cigarettes as a healthier alternative to traditional tobacco smoking, which we believe it is, not least because traditional smoking is terribly bad for our whole body in so many ways, and the disease it causes can kill us very quickly once cells turn bad!

A poignant reminder (if you need one): it takes just ONE cell in our body to go wrong and turn into cancer. When you realise something's wrong, you may have less than 2 months to live.

We all know smoking isn't good for health and nicotine doesn't do us any good. It's reasonable to assume that when you inhale anything you naturally shouldn't (and this includes vehicle fumes, so-called air fresheners, chemical-based household products, perfumes, deodorants etc - the list is endless!) our bodies are not thanking us!

Traditional cigarettes have something like 4000 chemicals in them, they age our skin, block our lungs with tar, produce carbon monoxide and cause cancer. They also affect the health of those around us.

Fact (we know you know this!): smoking is the largest cause of PREVENTABLE death in the world!

We're not scientists, but we think it's reasonable to assume that electronic cigarettes are a healthier alternative to traditional cigarette smoking, most particularly when you use quality liquid. We are not saying vaping it is good for health, but we would say fresh clear air is as nature intended is good for heath.

If you can use them to cut down or quit altogether, then so much the better.

We welcome all the necessary e-liquid regulation in 2016.

Personally, I find it incredible that 'air fresheners' and their chemical contents are subject to no regulation or disclosure whatsoever despite also being inhaled for much of the day and night at home, and by the whole family including babies and children.

Why are electronic cigarettes healthier than normal cigarettes?

We know that electronic cigarettes do not contain tobacco and they don’t burn like traditional cigarettes. And as we've said, an electronic cigarette doesn’t produce ash or carbon monoxide and because there is no burning of tobacco, gone too are the 4000 or so chemicals or compounds known to be in traditional cigarettes. Some are natural chemicals from the tobacco but many are not.

Electronic cigarettes don’t contain tobacco but they can contain nicotine. There’s a part of the e-cigarette which gets filled with what’s called e-liquid and that contains nicotine, but you can also choose to have a nicotine-free e-liquid.

It's the ingredients in the e-liquid that are heated up and inhaled as you draw on the cigarette.

These are 4 MAIN ingredients in e-liquid:

  • base liquid - usually propylene glycol (PG) or vegetable glycerine (VG)
  • nicotine
  • water
  • flavouring (natural and artificial)

E-liquid is a big subject in itself. You can learn about the different types of e-liquid on our website.

Are electronic cigarettes part of the UK smoking ban?

Can I smoke an electronic cigarette anywhere?

The smoking ban in the UK became law through the Health Act 2006 (Ch28 P1, Ch1, S1). Paragraph 2 says: ‘smoking’ refers to smoking tobacco or anything which contains tobacco, or smoking any other substance; and smoking includes being in possession of lit tobacco or anything lit which contains tobacco, or being in possession of any other lit substance in a form in which it could be smoked.

Electronic cigarettes do not contain tobacco and are therefore exempt from this Act. So it is legal to smoke them anywhere.

However, you should check with the venue that it’s ok to smoke e-cigarettes, when you’re in your local pub for example (a public place). They have started to be banned in certain establishments, Wetherspoons being one of them, and more are likely to follow.

Despite what you may read elsewhere with regard to being able to smoke electronic cigarettes anywhere, and that there is no smell and no smoke etc, just vapour, when you smoke your electronic cigarette, there are chemicals in your e-liquid (some are natural flavourings others are not) and users should not assume that their vapour is completely odour-free or chemical-free.

But perhaps it's more relevant to consider the reaction from people when they see you smoking. They may have no idea what an electronic cigarette is and just be aware (I'm sure you are!) that you may get some funny looks at the very least from people who are anxious about what they think they're observing.

As we said earlier, we are constantly absorbing all manner of crap into our bodies every day (vehicle fumes, air fresheners (yuck!), chemical-based household products, perfumes, deodorants etc). All these chemical-based products are there in our lives every day, and we just accept it, smokers and non-smokers alike.

Electronic cigarettes, we believe, are a healthier alternative to smoking and can help people quit traditional cigarettes, but don’t let anyone tell you they are good for your health. No smoking at all is best.

The government will make its stance clear at some point with regard to its recommendations and/or legislation about electronic cigarettes, right now you can smoke electronic cigarettes anywhere but we think it’s fair to say you will meet with resistance and opposition and this may or may not prove to be justified in the future (we mean this with regard to inferior devices and liquids).

Depending on developments, it would be good if air fresheners could go too! Goodness knows what's in some of them but they cause throat and eye irritation in many people. Alright, I'll retreat back to my corner in Hyde Park now.

Are electronic cigarettes cheaper than normal cigarettes?

They sure are.The average smoker of electronic cigarettes can considerably reduce their monthly expenditure, typically by at least 70% compared with smoking the same amount of traditional cigarettes.

This is just a guide because several things can influence the cost of smoking - the cost of the kit, how well it is looked after and therefore how much is spent on maintaining it, and the cost of the liquids (some cost more than others).

We've tried to strike a balance and as a reasonable guide, someone smoking 60 cigarettes a day should be able to save in the region of a staggering £540 per month! The table below shows the monthly savings for cigarettes ranging from £5 to £8 per packet of 20 and the savings have been calculated on a cost reduction of 75% over 30 days. How much will you save?

We love to get your feedback so please do get in touch about your experiences.

Do electronic cigarettes have a smell?

The vaporisation process of an e-cigarette produces a vapour that looks similar to smoke but there is very little smell compared to smoking a traditional tobacco cigarette. Quite often there is no smell at all but the flavoured e-liquids can produce an aroma, and depending on the kit being used the smell can be quite strong.

You might get the hint of mint, chocolate, or coffee, for example, depending on the flavour and strength of the e-liquid. It would depend on what flavour and strength of e-liquid you’ve got in your electronic cigarette, but assume it is quite possible that the smell or aroma from your e-liquid may be noticed by other people in the room.

There are several nicotine strengths to choose from and numerous flavours, many of which are virtually odourless.