A few short days ago, I was waiting for my prescription to process at Tesco Pharmacy when I noticed that they had an entire shelf behind the counter dedicated to electronic cigarettes. Not just a couple in a pop-up box that I had seen previously, but an entire shelf. It suddenly struck me that it’s becoming more and more acceptable to look upon e-cigs as a healthier alternative to smoking. ‘Healthier’ is perhaps the wrong word to use here, but it’s hard to ignore the thousands of chemicals in tobacco versus the components in electronic cigarettes that for the most part can be counted on one hand.
It’s not just retail either. The Times (UK newspaper) carried a supplement on the 14th June entitled ‘The Electronic Cigarette’, featuring commentary from industry professionals as well as soundbites from people that have successfully ditched smoking with the help of the e-cig. Not only that, but there were plenty of adverts from electronic cigarette retailers – ranging from your typical gadget that looks like a cigarette to the more advanced items that are popular with ‘vapers’. So is it finally becoming acceptable for people to choose ‘the lesser of two evils’?
I think yes. Ok, so there isn’t exactly a wealth of research on the subject, not from official channels anyway. With the surge of media attention though, surely it can only be a matter of time before someone wants to add some weighting to the debate. I myself am one of the electronic cigarette success stories. I was a recreational smoker, probably only getting through about 10 traditional cigarettes a day at most. Of course this was still more than enough to get me concerned about the long-term health effects but that didn’t seem to be enough to push a cold turkey situation. Of course I was curious about electronic cigarettes, otherwise I wouldn’t have tried one. I wouldn’t say it was a lightbulb moment, but it was close. It only took about two weeks from my first puff on an e-cig to snuffing out my last ever cigarette. That was almost a year ago.
Of course everyone’s personal experiences are different, but I haven’t had a cough since last summer, I feel generally better when I walk and my hair and clothes don’t smell. Water vapour doesn’t leave a lingering scent, which is a huge selling point. What’s more, I now find the smell of cigarette smoke repulsive. There was a time when I couldn’t walk through a crowd of smokers outside a pub without feeling that familiar longing to light up. Now I just carry on passing through, hoping that no second hand smoke clings to my scarf.
Then there’s the flavours. Before I was pretty much limited to tobacco, menthol, or some more tobacco. Now I have several different favourites. Ok, admittedly one of them is menthol, but thern there’s strawberry, citrus fruits and grape soda. Getting the nicotine with none of the ammonia, carbon monoxide or tar. Who needs that gunk in their body anyway? There might be a day when I wean myself off nicotine completely (e-liquids come in different strengths), but for now I find that I quite enjoy the variety to my nicotine delivery.
Did I mention I don’t smell bad any more?