Huffing and Puffing: study reveals that nearly half of us don’t actually know how vaping works…

Since the advent of e-cigarettes in 2003 – the brainchild of a Chinese smoker, and pharmacist, Hon Lik – it has been widely acknowledged that they are less harmful than an actual cigarette; hence why so many people use them to break their addiction to smoking. In fact, Lik himself used to smoke up to three packets of cigarettes a day, and it wasn’t until his father – also a smoker – died of lung cancer that he was impelled to invent something that would only simulate cigarette smoke, without the harmful effects of the real thing.

Slowly, over the next few years, his invention made its way to Europe and the US, and now the most recent estimates show that there could be around 68 million vapers globally. But how, exactly, does vaping work? Vaping company GoSmokeFree.co.uk conducted a study of 500 respondents to find out how common this knowledge is, and found that nearly half of us (47%) [NOTE: ie the inverse of the 53% that do know] have no idea.

To be fair, it sounds pretty technical and complicated at first, involving several component parts. Essentially, e-cigarettes are battery-powered devices which allow people to inhale nicotine in a vapour, rather than smoke. Liquid is heated into an aerosol that the user inhales, then exhales. This liquid typically contains nicotine – the addictive drug found in regular cigarettes and other tobacco products – propylene glycol, glycerin, flavourings, and other chemicals. Some are cigarette or pen-shaped – ie long and tubular – while others are described as ‘pods’, and look more like a short, flat USB stick, and there are also some known as ‘mods’, which are larger than the others, with a refillable tank, longer lasting rechargeable batteries, and variable power. In many e-cigarettes, puffing activates the battery-powered heating device, which vaporizes the liquid in the cartridge. The person then inhales the resulting aerosol or vapour (which is what is known as vaping).

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, 37% said it was that their breath smells, 18% said that their clothes smell, and 10% cited premature ageing – we’ve all met someone with leathery skin wrinkled well before its time, due to the lack of oxygen and nutrients getting to their blood from the nicotine in their system. And if nicotine can stain walls within a building (we’ve all clocked a regular smoker’s yellow-tinged living room if we’ve visited them at home) then what on earth can it be doing to our veins, blood vessels and lungs?

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. Who wouldn’t want to prolong a loved one’s health and life span? It’s perhaps no wonder that GoSmokeFree.co.uk also found that over a third of respondents – 37% – said that they believed vaping should be available on the NHS. After all, it would be helping people cut down on, or entirely stop, 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).

Another issue involved is the cost of vaping. Smokers have seen the price of a packet of cigarettes creep up over the years in the UK, and currently, it stands at around £13.80; pretty steep, you’d probably agree. It would take a significant difference in price to lure smokers over to vaping, you might think. GoSmokeFree.co.uk also wanted to find out what people thought a vaping device cost, and on average, they quoted £32. In fact, a basic vaping starter kit can cost as little as £3.99. Okay, so it might not last more than a few weeks – although some devices can last up to 6 or 7 months – but it will work out cheaper than getting through a packet (or more) of cigarettes per day, which can only be a good thing.

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