Friday, July 5, 2013

E-cigarettes: Is a smoking alternative being choked by regulation?

Jul 6, 2013 by 
Dozens of countries are introducing legislation restricting the use of e-cigarettes, but their proponents say they are harmless and their use could in fact save millions of lives. Could they be right?
A group of friends sits around a table in a pub in south London, exchanging stories and putting the world to rights in a cloud of scented vapour.
One of them is 31-year-old Jonny Lavery.
"I had a big problem with death, a really big problem with dying," he says. "I wanted to avoid dying at all costs."
But three years ago, Lavery realised that as a smoker of 15 years, his chance of doing this was diminishing. Roughly half the world's smokers die from their habit. The trouble was Johnny just enjoyed it too much to quit.
Then he found an alternative - the electronic cigarette.
These gizmos contain batteries and "e-liquid" - a solution of propylene glycol or glycerine - containing a nicotine dose. A battery inside the e-cigarette heats up a coil attached to a wick. When the liquid is presented to the hot wick it produces vapour which can be inhaled.
They don't quite match the nicotine hit of a real cigarette, but they come close enough to have won over 1.3 million users in the UK alone (compared to nine million tobacco smokers). In the US, e-cigarette sales could pass $1bn (£650m) this year - up from $600m (£390m) in 2012.
Since there is no smoke, puffing on e-cigarettes is called vaping, not smoking. The group of men and women sitting in the pub call themselves vapers - they meet regularly to vape and to talk about vaping.
A little nerdy, they resemble a gang of home-brewing enthusiasts more than a stop-smoking support group.
They inspect one another's vaporisers - which come in all manner of shapes and sizes - and sniff one another's vapour. "I'm currently vaping toffee popcorn," says Shari Levy, emanating sweetness. "And this one here is coffee. And this one is tutti frutti - that's nice for the summer. Amaretto with a morning coffee is just delicious."