Updated: Friday, 17th November 2017 @ 12:59pm

E-cigs: Just what is behind the boom in the alternative to smoking?

E-cigs: Just what is behind the boom in the alternative to smoking?

| By Kieran Isgin

With over 1300 registered e-cig stores in the UK, 59 of which are in Manchester, it is no secret that the vape business and community has surged in recent years.

For those not in the know, electronic cigarettes (commonly referred to as e-cigarettes or e-cigs) are a form of tobacco product in which a person puts liquid containing nicotine into an electronically powered vaporiser that turns the liquid into a vapour for the person to inhale and get the nicotine into their system.

A popular e-cig store in Manchester is Vape Lounge on Church Street, Northern Quarter, whose owner Leon Bell told the MM that smoking in the traditional sense could soon be non-existent.

He said: “I think it’s already on the verge of replacing smoking this is the only thing that’s ever been out that’s made people that have been smoking for 20 odd years just stop instantly overnight.”

The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), the executive department responsible for regulating medicine and medical devices in the UK, approved the use of e-cigarettes as a tool for quitting smoking.

However, the NHS will not routinely hand them out as there are still questions concerning the effects of long term e-cig use on an individual’s health.

There have been a number of studies to suggest that e-cigs are indeed a safer smoking alternative, the most recent being executed by a team of scientists at UCL who are condoned by Cancer Research UK who state on their website that the nicotine contained in e-cigs satisfy a smokers craving and “doesn’t cause cancer”.


BUSINESS BOOM: Leon Bell at his Vape Lounge premises in Manchester

Mr Bell spoke of his own experiences with using e-cigs as a cigarette cessation device: “About five years ago when I first used an e-cigarette I just literally quit overnight I couldn’t quit cold turkey but with this it helps a lot.”

These results have come in light to raising concerns about the actual safety status of using e-cigs instead of tobacco cigarettes. However, while this statement has been made they do specify that they are “not 100% convinced yet” and that more studies need to be taken to consider the “long-term” effects of e-cig use.

There are also concerns about the attraction of e-liquids for young people because of the range of flavours available and the growing appealing designs of e-cigs.

Mr Bell touched on this stigma: “It’s become more of a trend now rather than stopping smoking when they first came it was all about stopping smoking but because e-cigarettes look so snazzy and there’s so many different designs shapes and sizes it’s more of a fashion trend people are buying e-cigs to match their outfits”

However, the Telegraph reported in August 2017 that data involving 60,000 11 to 16-year-olds revealed there is no evidence that “vaping” the electronic devices acts as a gateway to the more harmful habit.

The government has expressed a favourable attitude towards e-cigs. Public Health England stated in 2016 that e-cigarettes were ‘significantly less harmful’ than smoking.

So, with all this executive support in favour of e-cigs why is there still a stigma against “vaping” in cities like Manchester? In May this year the EU released new regulations against e-cigs as part of their Tobacco and Related Products Regulation programme of 2016.

The Regulation effectively limits the amount of e-liquid that can be sold to single 10ml bottles (before this legislation was implemented some stores were selling up to 500ml) and e-liquid storage tanks could only be produced in 2ml sizes (previously commonly be sold in 10-20ml sizes).

When asked if this law had positive or negative effect on the circulation of e-cigs, Mr Bell said: “I think it’s a bit of both there’s a lot more regulations on e-liquids so little companies can’t make e-liquids in the bath and selling them and distributing them from different retails it’s good in that sense that quality control has improved.

“But in the negative sense it’s annoying to have the little 10ml bottles with the new tanks there’s a lot of customers that have the old tanks so if you’re buying 10ml of e-liquid it’s only going to last two fills out of a bottle. The law is effectively making e-cig consumers spend more on e-liquid where it isn’t necessary.”

Tobacco is responsible for around 100,000 deaths every year, and causes more than eight out of ten lung cancers, according to Cancer Research UK.