A 2017 survey of smokers in the United Kingdom found that more than a third of adult smokers hadn't tried e-cigarettes yet. Among those people, the most common reason for not trying e-cigarettes was the belief that e-cigarettes are more addictive or more harmful than tobacco cigarettes. We suspect that the trends are similar elsewhere in the world due to the strong negative slant of most media portrayals of vaping. We think the fear mongering is unfortunate because the available information doesn't suggest that e-cigarettes are more dangerous or addictive than tobacco cigarettes. In fact, everything that we know suggests that the exact opposite is true -- and those aren't the only facts that the media gets wrong about vaping.
These are the top 6 things that the media won't tell you about vaping.
We'd love to sell nicotine e-liquid in Australia -- from within Australia's borders -- but we can't. It isn't legal to buy e-liquid with nicotine in Australia, but it is legal to import it. We ship e-liquid to Australia from our parent company in the United Kingdom, but arrival takes a few days. We wish we could get it here more quickly. The Australian government is currently taking a different stance on vaping to other leading western governments. While the approach here is more restrictive, some other governments are treating e-cigarettes as a lower-risk alternative to smoking.
The United Kingdom leads the pack. The UK National Health System says that e-cigarettes "are a great way to help combat nicotine cravings and carry a fraction of the risk of cigarettes." The UK Tobacco Product Directive is a common-sense regulatory framework that prohibits the use of known unsafe e-liquid ingredients, requires child-proof bottles and limits the maximum size of bottles and tanks.
In the United States, e-cigarette regulation is in flux. In 2016, the Food and Drug Administration announced a ruling that would require all e-cigarette and e-liquid companies to obtain FDA approval of their products by August 2018 -- a process that would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars per product, essentially killing the vaping industry in the US. In 2017, the FDA pushed the deadline back to August 2022. As a growing body of studies continue to conclude that e-cigarettes are a significantly less risky alternative to smoking, it seems likely that the FDA will change its regulations. As of now, every product that was on the market in 2016 is still legal to sell in the United States.
New Zealand has emerged as a leader in determining how best to regulate e-cigarettes. In 2017, the New Zealand government announced plans to legalise e-cigarettes by 2018. Regarding the plan, Associate Health Minister Nicky Wagner said, "I suggest anyone who smokes … has a go at vaping." The New Zealand government also decided against taxing e-cigarettes at the same rate as tobacco cigarettes because they want smokers to see vaping as a less expensive option. Liberty Flights Andrew Dent is a member of the New Zealand government's Electronic Cigarette Technical Expert Advisory Group. As a member of the group, Andrew will help the New Zealand Ministry of Health shape its vaping regulations.
In 2017, the market research firm YouGov conducted a survey of nearly 13,000 adults to learn more about the effects that e-cigarettes have had on smokers. YouGov concluded that out of about 2.9 million people in the UK who use e-cigarettes, about 1.5 million -- more than half -- no longer smoke.
It's no coincidence that smoking rates have plummeted where smokers are allowed to vape freely. In 2010 -- just before e-cigarettes exploded in popularity -- 21 percent of UK adults smoked. Among young adults aged 18-24, 26 percent smoked. By 2016, the smoking rate among those groups had fallen to 15.8 and 19 percent respectively.
The smoking rate in Australia also dropped from 2010-2016 -- but not as dramatically. In 2010, 18 percent of Australian adults smoked. By 2016, the smoking rate had dropped to 14.2 percent. That's a reduction of 26.7 percent. The smoking rate in the UK dropped by 32.9 percent in the same time span. It is possible that the challenges associated with obtaining nicotine e-liquid have contributed to Australia's inability to reduce its smoking rate as dramatically as some other areas of the world.
Smoking is the world's leading preventable cause of death. At least half of the people who smoke will eventually die from their habit. If the world's health authorities truly want to reduce the smoking rate to zero, they should build regulatory frameworks that encourage innovation in the vaping industry rather than stifling it. We should not be asking ourselves how we can protect the general public from nicotine addiction; we should be asking how we can save the millions who are already addicted. Further innovation in the e-cigarette industry -- and fair, balanced news reporting -- could go a long way toward protecting public health.
The e-cigarette industry is a young one that hasn't yet reached a consolidation stage. E-cigarette manufacturers are doing everything they can to differentiate their products, and the continued innovation is great for consumers. Only about seven years ago, most e-cigarettes were tiny devices that had poor battery life, didn't produce vapour reliably and held a small amount of liquid in plastic disposable cartridges. Competition and innovation have given us:
Every time an e-cigarette manufacturer produces an innovative breakthrough, we all win. E-cigarettes that refuse to operate in unsafe conditions help to prevent accidents when using powerful lithium ion batteries. E-cigarettes with temperature limiting features help cloud chasers avoid inhaling the byproducts of burned cotton. E-cigarettes that work reliably and produce plenty of vapour make it easier for smokers to switch to vaping. During the time in which they've been available, e-cigarettes have improved in every possible way. The innovation in the e-cigarette industry is the reason why so many smokers have switched successfully to vaping -- and those who would discourage further innovation only doom those who haven't made the switch yet.
Vaping is massively popular around the world. In the United States, more than 9 million people vape. In the UK, there are more than 2.9 million e-cigarette users. The e-cigarette industry is truly disruptive. When you read news stories about e-cigarettes, it's wise to treat those stories with scepticism and consider whose interests those stories protect.
Do you want to get the facts about e-cigarettes? One way to start is by reading scientific studies. While we aren't health experts and can't make health-related claims about our products, many studies have produced promising results. These are just a few examples:
Are you still unsure about whether switching from smoking to vaping is the right decision for you? Medical experts around the world support vaping for tobacco harm reduction. To name a few:
A growing number of independent physicians around the world have also said on record that they support e-cigarettes as an alternative for those who already smoke.
Those who speak or write negatively about e-cigarettes often focus on the dangers of nicotine addiction. Nicotine is a highly addictive chemical, and those who don't use it already shouldn't start. For current cigarette smokers, though, e-cigarettes aren't more addictive -- they're less addictive because the body absorbs less nicotine during vaping than it does during smoking. In fact, it would take an e-liquid with a massive nicotine strength of 50 mg for an e-cigarette to deliver nicotine with efficiency approaching that of a tobacco cigarette. We recommend a nicotine strength of just 18 mg for smokers who are switching to e-cigarettes for the first time; it's the ideal strength for most new e-cigarette users.
In an e-cigarette, nicotine is the only active ingredient. The other ingredients in e-liquid are flavours and carriers. They don't interact with the body in an addictive way. Commercially produced cigarettes, on the other hand, have been around for more than 100 years -- and we still don't know everything about their effects on the body. For many years, doctors have noticed that chronic depression appears to be more likely among cigarette smokers. In 1996, a study may have uncovered the reason: Tobacco smoke is a monoamine oxidase A inhibitor. In a healthy brain, tobacco smoke can disrupt neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine. The fact that tobacco smoke is an MAO-A inhibitor doesn't just mean that the smoke disrupts normal brain activity; it also makes cigarettes more addictive. A 2005 study showed that rats -- when given the ability to administer nicotine to themselves -- administered nicotine more often when they were given MAO inhibitors. Nicotine alone, though, is not an MAO inhibitor. The property only exists in tobacco smoke; scientists don't know why.
If you've spent any time reading about e-cigarettes, you've probably noticed that vaping has become a hobby for some. Around the world, there are magazines, conventions and competitions devoted to e-cigarettes. Just like smoking, though, vaping is something that appeals to all types of people. You may ultimately become a vaping hobbyist -- but you don't have to become a part of that culture if you don't want to. Most people don't vape because they want to enter cloud chasing competitions. They vape because they're looking for an alternative to smoking -- just like you.