Where there’s smoke there’s fire

With any new technology there is bound to be new terminology to accompany it, most recently witnessed by the popularity of e-cigarettes. An e-cig works with an atomizer which converts nicotine infused E liquid into vapour which you inhale, hence the intuitive term ‘vaping’. However, there remains some confusion, particularly in the media, between the act of vaping and traditional smoking, with the term smoking being freely applied to e-cigs and normal tobacco cigarettes alike.

The new phrase was coined by the e-cig industry to help differentiate the act of smoking an e-cigarette from tobacco-based products, as with e-cigs, nothing has to be ignited and burned for them to be used. Studies into e-cigarettes and E liquid are revealing that the vapour produced has far, far fewer chemicals than the smoke from a cigarette; making it all the more important to establish the difference between the two.

However, e-cigs are still very much a new product in the eyes of the public and as such, every opportunity should be taken in order to educate those who are unaware or misinformed about the differences between E cigarette liquid and tobacco.

One important difference is that E-liquid typically contains propylene glycol and, or, vegetable glycerine, nicotine (though nicotine free e-liquids are available) and flavourings.  Propylene glycol is a thick, clear, colourless liquid also known as PG. The liquid is man-made and is used in a number of products including toothpaste, asthma inhalers, baby wipes, shampoo and other cosmetics. One product which contains PG however has been eagerly seized upon by the media to condemn e-cigs, which is anti-freeze. However, many of the scare-mongering headlines neglect to mention that the toxicity of PG is incredibly low, is classified as a “non-toxic anti-freeze” and is used specifically for food processing.

PG is often used with or instead of vegetable glycerine, also known as glycerol or VG, with the liquid being colourless and produced from plant oils, typically soy or coconut. VG is commonly found in cosmetics, food, medication and a number of alcoholic products. Both of these substances, though much healthier than tobacco by themselves, are infused with nicotine to create e-liquid and as such should not be used by anyone under 18.

In addition, a number of experts, including Lynne Dawkins, from the University of East London, Dr Jacques Le Houezec and Robert West, professor of health psychology at University College London have said that e-cigarettes should not be over regulated, as they are a healthier alternative to smoking tobacco and the health benefits of this should not be overlooked.

Ultimately, implying that smoking and vaping are one and the same is incorrect, and efforts should be made to ensure that the proper terminology is used correctly. Whether it is intentional or unintentional, the difference should be recognised otherwise it could potentially put of smokers who wish to adopt a healthier alternative lifestyle.

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