E-cigarettes are the latest tool in the armoury of those looking to kick the smoking habit for good. Almost overnight the electronic cigarette business has mushroomed and there are now dozens of brands to choose from. It was only a matter of time before the traditional street corner tobacco kiosk was joined by an e-cigarette specific equivalent, and sure enough Manhattan's first such store opened on the Lower East Side last week. This venture joins their other small operation Queens and there are plans to open a second large store in Brooklyn later in the year.
The store exclusively sells e-cigarettes and accessories and customers are encouraged to sample the various flavours and nicotine strengths on offer before they buy. The featured brand is VapeNY. The cigarettes can be tailored to customers' specific requirements; flavour and strength etc. You can even choose different colours and patterns. Users concede that e-cigarettes don't taste the same as the real thing although if the vapour is right, the experience is pretty close to smoking for real.
Demand for e-cigarettes is now so great and growing so rapidly that established major brands such as Playboy and Marlboro have recently announced their intention to launch their own brands. E-cigarettes are proving contentious however as they fall into a grey area as regards regulation. Public health organisations are demanding caution and have expressed the need to further investigate and assess potential risks.
In the UK, e-cigarettes are currently permitted in pubs, restaurants and bars although there have already been calls from anti-smoking groups for their use to be banned. These groups argue that the impact of their use on health has not been fully investigated. It is also feared that children may be attracted to e-cigarettes because of their many fruity and sweet flavours and the fact that they look "cool". This may ultimately lead to children taking up smoking for real. Minors under the age of 16 are currently prohibited from purchasing the devices.
E-cigarettes are powered by a battery which uses the heat reaction as the user inhales to vaporise the nicotine-filled liquid cartridge and in doing so creates a smoke-like mist. The resultant vapour is a mixture of water, vegetable glycerine and propylene glycol. Recent research published by the University of Catania in Italy indicates that 10% of e-cigarette users reported the devices assisted them in giving up smoking. Other reports from unspecified sources however suggest that inhaling the vapour they produce can actually cause respiratory problems including blockages. The general consensus among users is that it is the toxins and tar contained in tobacco and smoke that are dangerous to health, not the nicotine. It is not thought likely that anyone could overdose on nicotine from "vaping" e-cigarettes.
One thing is for certain; e-cigarettes are here to stay and if they help to save the lives of those who take up "vaping" instead of smoking, that can only be a good thing.