We’ve all heard of them, seen them and a growing number of us have used (or vaped) with them. Electronic cigarettes, such as those offered by Freshcig, are an invention touted as a technological solution and healthier alternative to tobacco cigarettes. They are also an example of disruptive technology at its finest and are equally viewed as controversial with long term potential health effects remaining unknown.
E cig devices appeared in around 2003, when Chinese inventor Hon Lik sought a healthier alternative. He was a heavy smoker and his Father died from lung cancer as a result of smoking. Prior to then, a US inventor called Herbert Gilbert drew up the first design in 1963 however, his patent ran out and the products weren’t produced. The devices are made up of a battery, a cartomiser (which already contains e-liquid) or a refillable refill which the user adds e-liquid to. E-liquid is heated by the battery element when the user inhales on the device which produces the vaper and gives it a similar look and feel to a tobacco cigarette – although it is not classed as a NRT (Nicotine Replacement Therapy) product.
Types of device
There are four types of electronic cigarettes available in a variety of sizes and shapes. Firstly, the disposable Cigalike which is made up of a battery and prefilled cartomiser with around 1ml of e-liquid. The quality of these can vary greatly but are generally equivalent to 40 tobacco cigarettes. Rechargeable Cigalikes are available with replacement cartridges in a variety of flavours and nicotine strengths and are charged via a USB, along with its disposable version, they are the most common starting points for first time vapers. Probably the best all-rounder type of device is the Tank or E-Go style. This comes with a larger battery and is refillable. It means that it lasts longer and gives the user a greater level of control over their vaping habits.
The final option is the MOD’s or APV (Advanced Personal Vapourisers). They have more options in terms of battery style and personalisation capability, with many people building their own from ordered parts. They also give you the option to control the amount of vaper produced by altering the battery output.
A technological solution?
What about the speculation that it’s a technological solution to tobacco products? Well, although long term studies haven’t been carried out into their prospects of being a device to aid people to quit smoking, there are many health professionals and organisations that back them. For example, ASH (Action on Smoking and Health) state that they ‘represent a safer alternative to cigarettes for smokers who are unable or unwilling to stop using nicotine’. Senior health professionals in the UK are also supporters. Professor Robert West from Cancer Research UK has stated that; “Cigarettes at the moment are killing in the region of six million people every year. Can you imagine if every one of those cigarette smokers used an electronic cigarette instead – we would see the death toll drop”.
The future of the industry is still being debated. With advertising restrictions and medical licensing coming into force in the UK in 2016, it remains to be seen if this technology can be the solution to the tobacco smoking habit and whether it can indeed reduce the amount of smoking related deaths around the world.