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Why Do Just 15% of the Public Believe E-Cigarettes are Healthier Than Smoking?

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A new study by Action on Smoking and Health found that just 15% of the public believe that e-cigarettes are a healthy alternative to smoking. But why is this? We look at the shocking disparity between the general public opinion and the findings of experts - the latter having found e-cigarettes to be much less harmful than traditional cigarettes.

e-cigarettes are healthier than smoking | electric tobacconist UK The use of e-cigarettes by adults in Great Britain has risen from 700,000 to 2.8million in just four years. Contrary to the belief of some, this isn’t because hundreds of thousands of people who have never smoked before have decided to pick up an e-cigarette. It’s because more current and ex-smokers have come to the conclusion that e-cigarettes are a valuable way of replicating the sensation of smoking with something that is much less harmful.

Why Vapers Use E-Cigarettes

Despite public opinion, it’s clear to see that vapers see a benefit in using an e-cigarette over smoking.

An Effective Tool to Reduce Nicotine Intake

While many new vapers choose e-cigarette starter kits with a higher level of nicotine, results have proven that the number of those vaping with high levels of nicotine is incredibly low. If you currently smoke or are looking to quit, it’s important to choose a higher nicotine level so that you aren’t tempted to pick up your pack of cigarettes. What makes e-cigarettes so popular is that pen-style and box mod devices allow you to regulate how much nicotine you are having so that you can gradually reduce your intake. In fact, just 9% of vapers use e-liquid containing more than 19 mg/ml.  

The Cost of E-Liquid

E-liquid is considerably cheaper than buying a packet of cigarettes. According to a recent report by the Office of National Statistics, the average consumption by adults is 11.4 cigarettes a day. This has decreased significantly over the last 30 years, but still, e-cigarettes prove to be a more cost-effective solution. Consider this: The average price of 10 cigarettes costs £5. The same study by ASH found that only 11% of all vapers use more than 4ml of e-juice a day. With the vast majority of tanks able to contain 2ml, that’s just one refill a day - based on a full tank at the start of the day. A 10ml bottle will last two-and-a-half days. Buying cigarettes to last you that long, based on the average consumption, would cost you £15 (and that’s not taking heavy smokers into consideration). Now, let’s compare this to the cost of e-juice. Of course, premium liquids will cost more, but most high-end products are still cheaper than the price of two ten-packs of cigarettes. Take Vampire Vape, for instance. At Electric Tobacconist, you can purchase three bottles for £10. Even if you’re in the 11% who vape more than 4ml a day, you’ll have enough liquid to last you a week. With the new regulations by the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) coming into effect from May 20 of next year, 10 packs of cigarettes will be banned and no longer available. This could either send more people to e-cigarettes or see the smoking rate increase. If smokers increase their consumption by just an extra two cigarettes per day, that’s an astonishing 672 additional cigarettes every year.  

Health Benefits

We know that smoking takes an average of 10 years off a person’s lifespan, and kills almost half of those who do it. So far, there is no evidence that vaping has directly caused any deaths. E-cigs also do not contain carbon monoxide - the gas that makes it harder for oxygen to travel through the body and makes a smoker twice as likely to suffer a heart attack.  

Why a Lack of Faith in E-Cigarettes?

So, with these benefits, why do so many members of the public not believe e-cigarettes are an effective alternative to cigarettes? There are two main reasons: Fear, and misunderstanding. The media is full of stories that e-cigarettes are unsafe, that they are constantly blowing up and that they contain various chemicals.  

E-cigs Exploding

The problem with lithium-ion batteries, which are found in e-cigarettes as well as in our tablets and mobile phones, is that if they get damaged, they can heat up very quickly, which can cause them to explode. However, these incidents are incredibly rare, with just 43 out of hundreds of millions of batteries recalled in an eight-year period. Buying from a reputable retailer and following the charging instructions will help prevent this from happening.  

Chemicals in E-Cigarettes

E-liquid contains a chemical called propylene glycol. It’s often confused with ethylene glycol, which is a key ingredient of antifreeze and toxic to humans. This is not what’s in e-liquid. Propylene glycol is used in food, in hygiene products and even in asthma inhalers. This, along with vegetable glycerol, which is low in toxicity and also present in food, medication, and nicotine (except in 0mg e-juice), are the only ingredients present in e-cigarettes. Compare this to the long list of chemicals found in cigarettes, including tar and arsenic, which is used in rat poison, and you can judge for yourself whether e-cigarettes are a healthier option.  

Expert Opinion

Health authorities, such as Public Health England, have advocated that e-cigarettes carry a fraction of the risk of cigarettes and have the potential to bring smoking rates down significantly. The Royal College of Physicians only recently published a new report stating that e-cigarettes should be promoted widely as a substitute for smoking. It also stated that smokers should, in fact, be “encouraged” to use them. It’s clear that the public has a lot of confusion when it comes to believing whether e-cigarettes are less harmful than smoking. The misunderstanding comes from scare stories that aren’t based on evidence - and that’s the difference. The reason why so many experts on public health have advocated e-cigarettes as a healthy alternative is because they base their findings on solid evidence. We may have a long way to go until that gap closes but, until then, UK health watchdogs have made it their mission and responsibility “to provide clear information on the evidence we have”. This alone is a win for e-cigarettes and public health.  

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