E-cigarettes simply reinforce a terrible habit

Very little scientific research has been done into the effects of these devices

Share

When I was struggling to give up smoking, I often wondered when scientists would stop faffing around with that Large Hadron Collider and invent a cigarette that didn’t kill you. After teleportation and an iPhone battery that lasts longer than 12 hours, surely this must have topped the “Overdue” column on Science’s Big To Do List? Then, some time last year, that little plastic device with a red glowing light on the end was suddenly everywhere. It was to the rebellious allure of actual cigarettes as a Ken doll’s crotch is to real sex, but still, it worked. It allowed the smoker to inhale nicotine, without the harmful effects of tobacco. Healthy cigs had finally arrived. Be careful what you wish for.

Yesterday’s vote on the regulation of tobacco-related products at The European Parliament would have been confusing even if it wasn’t obscured by a cloud of profit motivation and pseudo-concern for public health. The MEPs said “No” to cigarette flavourings – but the ban on menthol cigarettes will be delayed five years. It was a “Yes” for those slim cigarettes favoured by affected schoolgirls and, most significantly, “Yes” to electronic cigarettes. By voting against the proposal to treat e-cigs as medicinal products the MEPs have freed manufacturers – for now at least – from any restriction on their sale.

It’s a huge success for these companies. They argue that their product could save lives by helping smokers give up more harmful tobacco products. Anti-smoking campaigners counter that e-cigarettes act as a stepping stone for non-smokers and that the lavish, unregulated marketing budgets are undermining years of work to end smoking’s cool cachet. In fact, neither party’s claims are supported by much evidence. Very little scientific research has been done into the effects of e-cigarettes and the chemicals they contain.

If e-cigarettes are intended to help smokers quit, their success in replicating the experience of smoking is a drawback. Nicotine replacement therapies, like patches, work by keeping the physical addiction under control while the smoker marshals their energies towards battling the psychological habit. In my experience, once you’ve mastered the fear of not looking cool at parties, overcoming the physical addition is a breeze. E-cigarettes, on the other hand, only reinforce the same habit you’re supposed to be kicking.

Until the research is done, we won’t know much about e-cigarettes’ secret ingredients, but we already know two things for sure: 1: Repeatedly dragging on a cigarette of any kind will give you wrinkles around your mouth exactly like a dog’s arse. 2: For as long as you are addicted to nicotine, you will be enslaved to a profit-making company that seemingly cares naught for your health or happiness. In many cases, these are the same companies that continued to push cigarettes to our parents and grandparents after they were proven to cause cancer. Why should we give them a penny more?

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Argyll Scott International: Commercial Finance Manager

£55000 - £70000 per annum: Argyll Scott International: My client, a world lead...

Argyll Scott International: Commercial Finance Manager

Negotiable: Argyll Scott International: My client, a world leading services pr...

Argyll Scott International: Commercial Finance Manager - Slough

Negotiable: Argyll Scott International: My client, a world leading services pr...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Services Advisor

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This organisation is a global m...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Ukip leader Nigel Farage arrives at the Rochester by-election count  

The key to Ukip's victory in Rochester? We listened to people

Nigel Farage
Room for improvement: the cheap, cheerful and controversial hotel charged guests for a bad review  

Blackpool Hotel and the politics of leaving an online review

Hannah Williams
US immigration: President Obama ready to press ahead with long-promised plan to overhaul 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?

Immigration: Obama's final frontier

The President is ready to press ahead with the long-promised plan to overhaul America's 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?
Bill Cosby rape allegations explained: Why are these allegations coming out now? Why didn’t these women come forward earlier? And why has nobody taken legal action?

Bill Cosby rape allegations explained

Why are these allegations coming out now? Why has nobody taken legal action? And what happens next for the man once thought of as 'America's Dad'
Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain

You know that headache you’ve got?

Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain
Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?

Scoot commute

Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?
Paul Robeson: The story of how an American icon was driven to death to be told in film

The Paul Robeson story

How an American icon was driven to death to be told in film
10 best satellite navigation systems

Never get lost again: 10 best satellite navigation systems

Keep your vehicle going in the right direction with a clever device
Paul Scholes column: England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil

Paul Scholes column

England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win says defender as he prepares to return with Hull

Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win

Hull defender faces his struggling former club on Sunday ready to show what they are missing. But he says he will always be grateful to Tottenham
Frank Warren column: Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game

Frank Warren column

Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game
Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

'How do you carry on? You have to...'

The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

Sir John Major hits out at theatres

Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

Kicking Barbie's butt

How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines