Patches, willpower, inhalers and eating to fill the yawning chasm are all tried and tested methods, but the launch of e-cigarettes was a total game-changer. What, we can smoke? Except it’s not smoking – but it’ll feel the same? Winner!

E-cigarettes, however, have felt the burn recently for being potentially harmful. Cancer Research UK’s website says ‘[They] have not undergone all the rigorous tests needed to ensure their safety and effectiveness,’ and warns ‘There are still some questions about the safety of the chemicals that are in e-cigarettes, and the current lack of regulation means there’s no way of verifying what’s actually in them.’

But it’s not all bad news. There have been reports on the BBC that e-cigs ‘could be as effective as nicotine patches,’ in helping smokers quit, and an article in The Independent suggests that e-cigarettes are more likely to help people quit as they are far more effective than gum and patches.

That’s certainly the view of a well known vaping company,

‘Approximately 50% of smokers die from smoking related illness and on average the life expectancy of a smoker is at least 10 years shorter than for a non smoker,’ they told TNT. ‘E-Cigarettes are still a fairly young technology but all the research leads to the fact, that for current smokers, they offer a real harm reduction alternative to smoking. But that is the important part to note – it is harm reduction for smokers and should not be promoted as a safe method for using nicotine by non smokers. We do not know for sure what the long term effects may be as they are so new and haven’t been around for long enough to test this, but we do know for sure that the research shows us they are definitely less harmful than smoking tobacco which contains over 70 known carcinogens.

‘So as long as we ensure that retailers are responsible and are not marketing to children or non-smokers, then I think this quote from Professor Robert West of Cancer Research UK sums it up perfectly: “In the whole of my career, over 30 years working in the field of tobacco research, the best we’ve been able to achieve in terms of getting smoking prevalence down is around 1% a year. Now, with electronic cigarettes, we have an opportunity to end the tobacco epidemic in my lifetime. This is something that I never thought I would see.”’

Okay, so it’s not a simple as we might think. Let’s have a quick look at the pros and cons:


  • There is no smoke. The appearance and feel of the e-cigarette is like smoke, but is in fact water vapour with nicotine. Nicotine is addictive but it is the smoking that kills.
  • People standing near you don’t have to breathe your smoke
  • You can ‘smoke’ indoors
  • E-cigarettes are much cheaper than cigarettes
  • They come in a multitude of flavours and nicotine strengths, so users can wean their way off after finding a product that suits them


  • It’s not yet known how safe e-cigarettes are and the long-term damage they might cause. There have been suggested cancer links, but none officially
  • The devices need to be charged; depending on the device, batteries run out after a few hours
  • If you’re a long-term user, it might be initially cheaper, but some users do find that it becomes somewhat of a hobby and end up buying a lot of different devices and tanks – they call it shiny-shiny syndrome – and this can get expensive.

What you do think about e-cigarettes. Are you a user? Do they work? Or do you think they’re harmful? Comment below.