Getting the facts about vaping can be a challenge. The majority of media headlines can seem negative, the actions of a handful of illicit vendors often burying the more objective reportage from government bodies and charities extolling its virtues as a safe and effective stop smoking aid.
It wasn’t so long ago that the biggest advertising and marketing share of expenditure was generated by the tobacco industry. The Marlborough Man was the epitome of the sexy smoker that everyone aspired to be. GPs openly smoked in front of their patients, every leading actor and actress on the big and small screen smoked.
Today of course we know differently. Most people would be horrified if their doctor lit up in front of them. Most of the major film and TV studios changed their policies around smoking on screen, especially in content aimed at children. Currently, the UK government has a target for England to “make smoking obsolete” by 2030. Even that giant of the tobacco industry Philip Morris is touting a “smoke free future”.
There’s no doubt that smoking is on the decline. It may be that you’re reading this because you’re still on the fence about whether to take up vaping, either to help you stop smoking altogether, or just to help you cut down. So here’s our honest and objective version of the pros and cons of vaping. Please read on, then make up your own mind about making the switch or not.
Advantages of Vaping Over Cigarettes
- Safety – Public Health England have declared that e-cigarettes are significantly less harmful for you than tobacco. Traditional cigarettes and cigarette smoke contain hundreds of chemicals, about 250 of which are toxic, including hydrogen cyanide, carbon monoxide, and ammonia. Around 70 of these chemicals directly cause cancer. Since vaping products do not contain tobacco (rather we use tobacco flavouring), these chemicals are either not present at all, or are present at significantly lower levels. The UK is also one of the most highly regulated vaping markets in the world, with every product required to be approved by the MHRA before it hits the shelves.
- They work as a stop smoking aid: The body of evidence demonstrating that e-cigarettes have helped many thousands of people to stop smoking is growing. Recent NHS trials using free vape starter kits showed a 42% success rate in getting patients to stop smoking within a month. The NHS is also working towards potentially giving e-cigarettes on prescription – which will be a world first. Vaping as a quitting aid is also endorsed by ASH, Cancer Research and the British Lung Foundation. The facts are in the public domain, but we encourage you to do your own research.
- You’re in control of your nicotine intake: There may be many reasons why people take up smoking in the first place, but they keep on doing it because they become addicted to nicotine. With traditional cigarettes you don’t get much choice, but with e-cigarettes you can vary the amount of nicotine you inhale. Typically, vapers can choose from e-liquid nicotine strengths of 18mg, 12mg, 9mg, 6mg and 3mg. Many reduce their levels over time as they gain greater control over their habit, even going completely nicotine free, if that’s what they want.
- Choice of flavours and vaping style: If you can imagine it, you can vape it! There are hundreds of different flavour profiles of e-liquids out there, from fruits to candy to dessert to menthol and many more. The aim here isn’t to make vaping more attractive and enjoyable than smoking, but familiar flavours make the intake of nicotine much more tolerable than sporting that ashy, burnt tobacco smell, as well as the other health risks associated with smoking. Plus you can vary the VG/PG ratios if you want to switch up the amount of vapour you produce or the kind of throat hit you want.
- You don’t smell of smoke: Whether you’re currently lit up or not, your clothes, breath, hair, fingers, car, carpets, curtains, and furniture will tell everyone that you’re a smoker, and it takes industrial-strength detergent to completely get rid of the smell. Research shows that tobacco smoke can settle on surfaces and remain there for up to 6 months. Some vaping e-liquids do have a smell, but nothing like that stale burnt odour left behind by cigarettes, and it doesn’t hang around.
- It’s cheaper: By several hundred (if not thousands of) pounds every year, depending on your starting point. Here’s our handy online calculator to help you work out exactly how much. Don’t forget the other hidden costs such as extra dental treatment, deodorant, sprays, chewing gum, laundry detergent and other paraphernalia needed to cover up the stink of smoking.
- No second-hand smoking: When you smoke, most of the smoke doesn’t go into your lungs, it gets dispersed in the air around you, causing second-hand smoking. Passive smokers can suffer the same health issues as smokers, joining the estimated 78,000 people that die from smoking each year in the UK. So is there such a thing as “second hand vaping”? The evidence suggests that the risk to other people from the relatively negligible amounts of nicotine released into the atmosphere from e-cigarettes is small compared to traditional cigarettes.
Disadvantages of Vaping over Cigarettes
- Too much choice: Your first foray into the vaping world may leave you dazed and confused. There are so many decisions to make: What kit? What e-liquid? What nicotine strength? What PG/VG ratio (and what exactly is that anyway)? The jargon around vaping can appear vast, almost like a whole new language. It takes patience and trial and error to really commit to vaping, so it’s best to get the help of an experienced vaper first, or you can speak to our customer services team to help get you started.
- Social stigma: Traditional smokers are increasingly becoming the target of condemnation, being forced outside in the rain for their smoking breaks and publicly shamed for their habit. As the numbers of vapers in the UK rise these attitudes run the risk of being assigned to e-cigarette users too. Vaping is already likewise banned from most indoor venues, but as we learn more about vaping it may be that such restrictions won’t be necessary in the future. In the meantime, try to be a good ambassador for vaping, and be mindful of your behaviour.
- It’s perceived to appeal to young people: Which is a bad thing, because that’s not what e-cigarettes are designed to do. It’s true that if you’re going to start smoking you’re more likely to start young, but it’s NOT true that vaping is some kind of gateway drug for kids to take up smoking. There are strict laws and regulations governing how e-cigarettes are marketed and sold in the UK, which includes preventing under-18s from buying them. But every growth industry has its rogue elements, and vaping is no exception. Most of the negative tabloid headlines involve the illicit sale of vapes to children, which we deplore.
- It’s perceived as an expensive hobby: It’s true that when you start vaping there are some up-front costs involved. Such as mods, batteries, coils, and e-liquids. But if you take good care of your kit you won’t need to replace it too often, and e-liquids can last weeks depending on how often you vape. Even so, the cost of vaping over a lifetime is orders of magnitude lower than smoking (see the Advantages section above).
- It’ still dependent on nicotine – which is still harmful: It’s a misconception that it’s the nicotine in cigarettes that kills. That’s not true (see above), although it is the addictive element that drives the habit in the first place. Many vape juices include nicotine but we have legal limits in the UK – currently 20mg/mls. The beauty of vaping is that you can choose how much nicotine to consume, for example via nic shots added to freebase e-liquids, which should satisfy even the heaviest smoker.
Hence, find the right vape online UK kit for you and match you up with your ideal e-liquid flavour and nicotine strength based on your current cigarette habits and even reduce your nicotine intake. You could even be bold enough to commit to stop smoking altogether.