Smoking, The Law And Electronic Cigarettes

By on April 13, 2013

The Future for E-Cigarettes

Electronic cigarettes or e-cigarettes as they are known are rapidly becoming more and more popular. This is proving to be quite inconvenient for the government for two reasons. Firstly, the use of e-cigarettes reduces the tax revenue raised from tobacco sales and secondly, the devices are not yet scientifically tested and regulated.

Ultimately, no one knows if smoking an electronic cigarette or vaporizing device is harmful or not. The evidence so far is that because the ingredients of e-liquid (which is the liquid nicotine that is heated to produce vapour) don’t contain either tar or any of the proven harmful chemicals, they must be safer to use. Additionally, you don’t generate and carbon monoxide when using an e-cigarette, so most of the known carcinogenic ingredients of tobacco smoking are absent.

Users and manufacturers argue that all you inhale is nicotine vapour, which in isolation, in no more harmful than caffeine, although it is far more addictive. What is unknown is whether any of the other ingredients, which are all readily available high street available materials are dangerous when inhaled.

a typical e-cigarette vaporizer

The argument that most people are putting up is that inhaling anything that doesn’t contain tar, poisonous chemicals and carbon monoxide has got to be less dangerous than smoking traditional cigarettes, and it is a valid argument.

Less Harmful isn’t the Same as Healthy

From a smokers point of view, he knows what will happen to him sooner or later if he continues to smoke, but by switching to an e-cigarette, he is reducing the amount of proven carcinogens he is consuming.

It is only natural to be deeply skeptical of a government issuing health warnings about a device that is costing them billions of pounds a year in lost tax revenue. Especially when they are losing that revenue from a product that they know will kill you!

We are brought up to believe that the government are there to protect us, but it begs the question “who is there to protect us from the government?”

Tobacco Duty in the UK

In 2012 the UK government raised £12.1 Billion from tobacco duty and with the potential cost savings to users of vaporizers of around 90% it is clear to see why the chancellor is growing concerned. It seems highly probably that in the coming months e-cigarettes will either be regulated and taxed in order to keep the Chancellor happy, or if a satisfactory method of taxation can’t be found then they will most likely be banned from sale.

We are constantly told that the UK government wants to reduce smoking and reduce the deaths that it causes, but each year, in spite of the smoking cessation strategies in place, tax revenues rise. The main smoking cessation policies seem to be to make smoking slightly less convenient by making smokers stand outside in the cold and to keep increasing the price of cigarettes.

Because they need the tax revenue that cigarettes generate, it is difficult to believe that they will ever proactively endorse a product that would drastically eat into that income, even if it saved lives in the process.

One would like to think that a responsible government would outlaw the proven product that it knows kills people before outlawing one that is in all likelihood far less dangerous. Will it happen? We will have to wait and see.

Featured images:

    License: Image author owned

    Dave Holland is a cynical cigarette smoker and e-cigarette vaporizer user. He is keen to hear from other smokers and non-smokers for their views and opinions about the rise in popularity of electronic smoking devices and the inconvenient truths about them.

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