As anyone who has ever tried to give up an addictive habit knows: it’s not easy to do so. Yes, often there is help and support available nationwide for addictions, but it can be costly, whether that’s measured in time, or money. If you have a problem with alcohol or drugs, for example, you might end up having to commit to regular AA or NA meetings, while those trying to give up smoking are bombarded with adverts for patches, gum or inhalers, some of which can cost even more than the average packet of cigarettes.
One of the best ways to move away from tobacco smoking in recent years has been the invention of the e-cigarette, or vape, which is far less harmful than a traditional cigarette, and can help you give up smoking for good. But, again, they cost money you need to pay for several different elements, including the e-cigarette itself; the tank the ‘e-juice’, or liquid consumed, is stored in; the coil which heats the liquid; and the battery which powers the vape. A basic starter kit can cost around £24.99, a tank around £40, e-juice anything from around £57, coils from around £45 and batteries around £10.
So, it’s no wonder that when asked, in a study by vaping company GoSmokeFree.co.uk, out of 500 respondents, over a third – 37% – said that they believed vaping should be available on the NHS. After all, it would be helping people cut down a bad habit which can lead to all sorts of illnesses which could eventually put pressure on the NHS, such as lung cancer, heart disease, strokes, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPB).
That said, the study also found that just over half of us – 53% – actually know how vaping works. To be fair, it sounds quite complicated; e-cigarettes are battery-powered devices which allow you to inhale nicotine in a vapor, rather than in more harmful smoke, which can leave a tar residue on the lungs. Liquid inside the device is heated into an aerosol that the user inhales, then exhales, and it typically contains nicotine, which may be why vaping is seen as a good way to make smokers stop using cigarettes, as they still get that ‘hit’. As well as nicotine, the liquid usually also contains propylene glycol, glycerin, flavorings, and other chemicals.
Vapes come in several different forms; some are cigarette- or pen shaped (ie long and tubular, mimicking what former smokers will have become used to), while others are short and flat, like a USB stick, and called ‘pods’. The biggest ones are called ‘mods’, and have a refillable tank, longer lasting rechargeable batteries, and variable power. In many e-cigarettes, puffing is what activates the battery-powered heating device, which then vaporizes the liquid in the cartridge. The person then inhales the resulting aerosol or vapor (which is what is known as vaping).
In essence, it sounds a lot better than sucking on a carcinogenic tube full of tobacco and nicotine (aka, a traditional cigarette). GoSmokeFree.co.uk also asked the respondents what the biggest turnoffs were about tobacco smokers. Over a third – 35% – said they are unhealthy; smoking can lead to many horrible diseases, from lung cancer to strokes. 37% were put off by the fact that smokers’ breath smells unpleasant, 18% hated the fact that smokers’ clothes stink, and 10% said that premature ageing – wrinkles or leathery skin was the worst thing to them.
GoSmokeFree.co.uk also asked respondents whether, if they had a loved one who smokes tobacco, they would try to encourage them to switch to less harmful vapes, and a huge 71% – nearly three quarters – said yes. After all, if you care about someone, you want them to be healthy and live longer.
In addition, over 1 in 3 of us (34%) believe the government should make smoking completely illegal. Yes, the price of cigarettes has been creeping up over the years but it appears that this is not a big enough deterrent.
In one forward thinking part of the USA – the suburb of Brookline, Massachusetts – anyone born after 1 January, 2000, is permanently banned from buying tobacco products. This is something the country of New Zealand wants to introduce, too; there is currently a government proposal to bar anyone aged 14 and under from ever buying cigarettes, starting in 2027. The crackdown on the tobacco industry would also curb the number of retailers allowed to sell tobacco, and cut nicotine levels in all products. Here’s hoping that the rest of the world eventually follows suit.