Smokers switch to e-cigarettes

17:00, Jun 08 2011
SEEKING SUBSTITUTES: Smoker Vanessa Marr has  turned to electronic cigarettes in an effort to quit.
SEEKING SUBSTITUTES: Smoker Vanessa Marr has turned to electronic cigarettes in an effort to quit.

Smokers chained to the habit are clicking on to an inventive approach as more of them seek alternatives.

Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, are the latest thing being marketed to a targeted segment of smokers struggling with skyrocketing tobacco prices.

The device costs about the same as a pouch of tobacco and works to offer a smokefree alternative to traditional cigarettes.

It comprises a rechargeable battery and a replaceable cartridge. When the cartridge is inhaled upon, the atomiser within the cartridge activates and a small amount of liquid steam is released.

The cartridges contain propylene glycol, flavouring and water.

This gives smokers access to safer forms of nicotine delivering it in a vapour, without the harmful components of tobacco smoke. E-cigarettes can also operate with flavoured, non-nicotine cartridges that last between 150 and 300 puffs.

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For smokers Vanessa Marr and Stacey Holland, the option has brought some relief as both of them are wanting to give up.

Both women are in their mid-thirties and have been regular smokers since their teens. They are unsure whether electronic cigarettes will help them quit the habit but are pleased with the results so far. The electronic devices have also received the thumbs up from Quitline, an incorporated charitable trust committed to helping New Zealanders quit smoking.

Chief executive Paula Snowden said electronic cigarettes were a much safer option for dispensing nicotine than smoking .

"It's the smoke that kills you; taking nicotine without the smoke is a much safer option. Nicotine isn't harmful on its own."

However, the objective was to make smoking something "not normal", she said. "If they can't get off it any other way then it's fine. We encourage people to use patches and gum at a cost of $3 for two months."

She said nicotine addiction was only one feature as smokers needed to consider the emotional and mental barriers to break.

While there is no legislation to stop Kiwi smokers using the electronic devices indoors, the electronic cigarette industry is facing a fight in the United States as authorities look to ban their use.

Electronic cigarettes do not burn or give off smoke, but their use is at the centre of debates as several states, workplaces and localities have included them in smoking bans.

Others have stated that the battery-powered devices do not fall under the smoking bans while some are reworking smoke-free laws to include them.

The Timaru Herald