Can e-cigarettes help you quit?
They rebel against all attempts by the government to regulate tobacco smoking but for one Southland student, e-cigarettes have helped him to quit.
Campbell Henderson, 27, returned to study this year and was haunted by the prospect of paying up to $90 a fortnight for roll-your-own cigarettes.
"I was never going to be able to afford cigarettes," he said.
"But since buying the e-cigarette, I have saved about $700."
Henderson has not smoked a normal cigarette once since he bought his first e-cigarette four months ago.
"I have tried quitting a number of times but this the only thing that has stuck," he said.
Using the e-cigarette has helped Henderson curb his nicotine cravings.
"I find the idea of been able to custom-wean myself off nicotine preferable, unlike patches that have a set amount."
The use of e-cigarettes - a tool to help people quit - has sparked national debate and is being reviewed by the Ministry of Health.
End Smoking New Zealand chairman Dr Murray Lurgersen said research indicated e-cigarettes had significantly fewer health risks.
"A person using an e-cigarette is inhaling nicotine but not the carcinogenic found in traditional cigarettes," he said.
Lurgersen said as traditional cigarette prices increase people would naturally start finding cheaper alternatives.
"But what is the harm? Normalising the smoking of nicotine is not going to kill people, but smoking a real cigarette will kill people, in fact it will kill one in two people," he said.
The e-cigarette produces a vapour by heating a liquid solution of propylene glycol, glycerin, nicotine, and sometimes flavourings.
They are illegal to buy in New Zealand with nicotine but can be imported online for personal use.
Cancer Council health promotion adviserSkye Kimura-Paul said there was insufficient evidence to show e-cigarettes were a safe and successful tool in helping people quit.
"The tobacco industry sits behind this and are funding the development of some of these cigarettes," she said.
Kimura-Paul said the government needs to regulate the e-cigarettes before it considers funding them.
"This product needs to be regulated just like cigarettes are. You can use them anywhere and people are using them everywhere."
Call QuitLine: 0800 778 778
The Southland Times