The negative effects of smoking are constantly advertised to us all, whether it is through TV documentaries, word of mouth or simply the warning on a cigarette packet. However, a decline in smoking seems to have led to an increase in vaping, of which the effects are still widely unknown. So, is it worth changing to the e-cigarette, or is it just another way for big corporations to make a profit by exploiting those who want to quit smoking?

A 2015 study found by ash found:

  • An estimated 2.6 million people in Great Britain currently use electronic cigarettes.
  • Nearly 2 out of 5 users are ex-smokers and three out of 5 are current smokers.
  • The main reason for use by smokers who currently use electronic cigarettes is to reduce the amount they smoke while ex-smokers report using electronic cigarettes to help them stop smoking.

From this study, it can be suggested thatĀ e-cigarettes are predominantly used by those who are regular smokers in order to reduce how frequently they smoke, or stop completely. The number of people using such a device who have never smoked before is very low. However, it is worth making such a switch if you do smoke?

Well, the main component of e-cigarettes is the e-liquid contained in cartridges. To create an e-liquid, nicotine is extracted from tobacco and mixed with a base (usually propylene glycol), and may also include flavourings, colourings and other chemicalsĀ (source). So, it does include many of the substances in a normal cigarette, suggesting that there is no benefit to changing. Also, as 3/5 users are current smokers, this is equally as worrying as the two products are being used alongside each other, which is clearly not good for your health, or any better than smoking regularly.

However, the larger concern is related to those who have never smoked before, but choose to use an e-cigarette, as it seems that this is simply another product on the market that is potentially dangerous, and created merely for corporations to make a greater profit. Despite this, a lot of research has shown that it is only a minority of e-cigarette users who have never smoked before, and so the problem is not as large as often perceived.

This links to the perception that young people are using e-cigarettes at an increasing rate, damaging their bodies as a result of following a new ‘craze’. However, it seems that, like adults, 11-18 year old users have predominantly been smokers previously, with only 4% never having smoked before, according to ash. It also seems that the understanding of electronic cigarettes among young children is good, as while 67% of children surveyed believe that e-cigarettes are less harmful than normal cigarettes, this number has fallen between 2013 and 2015, with those believing that e-cigarettes are equally as harmful increasing from 11% to 21%.

It may seem as though we are just making assumptions about the dangers of e-cigarettes, but at this point that is all we can do. Research takes a long time to conduct as the product has not been around for that long, but hopefully the true effects will be known in the next few years. For now, however, we can be content in the knowledge that most e-cigarette users use such a device to help stop smoking, which is a good result, and it is only a minority of people who have never smoked that have given it a go for themselves. Therefore, we can just hope that the e-cigarette is, at the least, equally as dangerous as normal cigarettes, if not better for your health.

Only time will tell.