How did vaping begin? Risks and Benefits

By Terri Brown

Back in 2003 Hon Lik, a Chinese pharmacist, set about creating a nicotine delivery system that would be less harmful to the smoker and possibly aid the quitting process, thus the basic e-cig was born.


Photo Credit: Vaping360 (Flickr)


Similar in size, shape and weight to a traditional cigarette, Hon Lik designed it to contain three parts: the battery, the cartomizer (a combination of the cartridge and the atomiser) and a silicone mouthpiece.

This battery-powered cigarette-shaped tube heats and vaporises a liquid nicotine solution for users to inhale. The cartridge within the cartomizer holds the e-liquid and is usually disposable once empty.

When the law was passed for smoke-free bars, restaurants, and nightclubs, this provided e-cigarette manufacturers with an opportunity to not only tout the benefits of a product that “looked, felt, and tasted like a cigarette” but was perfectly legal to use wherever traditional tobacco products were prohibited, but also of a product that could actually help you with quitting smoking altogether and its popularity soared.


Photo Credit: Vaping360 (Flickr)


Personal vaporisers only hit the e-cig world within the last couple of years, yet they have quickly gained traction. Data from a recent Wells Fargo study suggests that

Data from a recent Wells Fargo study suggests that vaporiser sales are growing twice as fast as standard e-cigs.

According to the Wall Street Journal, vaporisers are now approaching nearly 50 percent of total e-cig sales.

The vaporiser is similar to its e-cig cousin in that it is composed of a large battery on one end, a clear reservoir tank in the middle and a mouthpiece. By pressing a small button on the side of the battery, the user engages the heating element which vaporises the e-juice and releases a tasty vapour.

The main difference is that vaporisers do not resemble a traditional cigarette at all.  They are more like large fountain pens and they can offer vapers more advanced, customisable options when it comes to flavours and quantities even to the point where users can ‘mix their own’.

Are they Safe?

Pretty much everybody now knows the sorts of pollutants and chemicals found in the traditional cigarette.

Smoking cigarettes is the U.K.’s leading killer so it makes sense that the best thing a smoker can do is quit, but it isn’t that easy.

Tobacco is a highly addictive drug that can be very hard to put down which is why one of the biggest selling points of vaping is that you can have your blasts of tobacco in amounts that you have full control over, without all the other harmful and destructive substances you find in a cigarette.

However, with the popularity of e-cigs and vapes growing so suddenly, concerns are now being raised about whether they are really better for you than traditional cigarettes or if they are actually more harmful and whether or not they are driving people to take up the smoking habit instead of aiding people to quit it.

Many people in the vaping industry believe it to be enormously beneficial to public health and are dismayed to see it take a pretty stern beating in the public arena.

An expert independent review published by Public Health England (PHE) has recently concluded that vaping is around 95 percent less harmful to your health than tobacco is.

Not only that, they found no evidence at all that e-cigarettes and vaping are acting as a route into smoking for children or non-smokers and that it does, in fact, have the potential to help current smokers quit smoking cigarettes altogether.  Win-win all around!

The review found evidence that almost 2.6 million adults in the U.K. who vape or use e-cigarettes are current or ex-smokers who use the devices to either help them cut down or quit smoking, suggesting that e-cigarettes are actually contributing to the continued falling smoking rates among adults and young people.

No one is suggesting that vaping is completely risk-free – there is not much in this day and age that is – but when compared to smoking cigarettes the evidence shows that vaping carries just a fraction of the harm.

Yes, the vapours produced do contain some toxic substances but the levels of the toxicants are between nine and 450 times lower than in cigarette smoke and reputable vape shops minimise as many risks as possible by ensuring that they supply only quality, innovative and whole-of-market products so that all types of smokers (heavy, light, occasional etc.) can reduce and eventually stop their cigarette habit for good.

As for the question of whether it actually encourages non-smokers to start smoking or not, the report found that this was most definitely not the case.

They noted that on average, e-liquids in very low to zero nicotine strength far outsell the higher dose strengths. This can be for a number of reasons but mainly it is because of the way the nicotine is delivered (in vapour form).

You do not need as high a concentration of nicotine to get the same effect.  Also, the high nicotine actually deteriorates the great vape tastes that are available.  E-liquids come in a wide variety of flavours and the less nicotine you use in the mix, the better the end result.  This actually encourages the vape user to use less and less nicotine, aiding them in the quitting process.

In the long run, there is still a great deal of study that governing bodies need to do in order to alleviate certain public health concerns.

But with Cancer Research U.K. funding more research to deal with the unanswered questions including the longer-term impact and all of our local NHS Stop Smoking Services now proactively welcoming anyone who wants to use these devices as part of their quit attempt, it looks more and more likely that using vaping as a healthier, less expensive overall aid to quitting  is here to stay.


1st and 2nd images used in this article are copyright of Vaping360.



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