You could have been forgiven for feeling sorry for the little white stick that for many years brought comfort and relaxation to millions of people around the globe. Once man’s best friend who would be there to provide comfort after a stressful day in the office or to be his clubbing companion on a wild night out the cigarette showed itself to be a loyal friend...or so it seemed. Nowadays wanted posters can be seen in any city on giant billboards or in the daily newspaper, and mug shots of the little white guy can be seen on many smoking products with the text “Smoking kills”.
So what caused this dramatic u-turn? Not all was as it seemed – the so called ‘cool friend’ had underlying motives and was releasing harmful chemicals into our bodies, poisoning us from within. This lead man to try and find a replacement to his much loved cigarette cohort and from the ashes of the demise of the cigarette came the e-cig.
Armed with a more futuristic sounding name and being battery operated this upgrade promised to not only take the place of the cigarette but also be human friendly. Electronic cigarettes have seen a massive boom in sales in recent years and since 2006 the Electronic Cigarette Consumer Association estimated 650,000 people in the UK are using them. However there are now debates as to whether the replacement should be above the law in terms of the ‘smoking ban’ and be used in public places such as the work place.
Although it is not against the law to smoke one of these at work there is a split opinion as to whether they really are the way forward in terms of battling smoking. People against electronic cigarettes claim that although they accept the device is healthier than the alternative they can still cause danger and even encourage smoking. A spokesperson for NHS Fife which has banned the usage of the e cig said:
"Potential fire and safety risks have been identified.
"The heating element provides a source of ignition similar to a traditional cigarette which could ignite bedding or clothing."
Also Dr Nathanson gave his opinion on the subject,
"They are designed to look like smoking so what they do is they renormalise the concept of smoking, just at a time when we've all got used to the fact that smoking in the workplace is not normal nor allowed."
The arguments for the acceptance are just as compelling with people who use the device claiming that the only reason smoking cigarettes was banned in public places was due to second hand smoking which does not apply with e cigs so as a result they cause no harm to other people.
Also they claim that the using one of these devices does not in fact renormalise smoking but instead helps the user to quit. By mimicking the smoking process it seamlessly fits into the everyday life of a smoker with them slowly reducing their nicotine intake without them even noticing it.
So who is right? Are they really a chip off the old block in terms of the cigarette or are they the answer to the massive smoking problem the UK is currently battling?
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