Woman smoking

I have never been a smoker. However, for my entire life, I have been surrounded by people who have taken smoking very seriously. In fact, many of my childhood memories have been coloured with the heady mist of nicotine smoke.

Woman smoking

Sitting in my father’s lap, whilst listening to him play reggae vinyls, would mean being cocooned in a cloud of wispy smoke. As I grew up, I always seemed to choose boyfriends who smoked – and not just your two cigarettes a day, these were young men who had developed a relationship with certain brands and were fiercely loyal. So, despite never being a committed smoker myself, you could say that I have had a life long relationship with cigarettes (I even love the smell of a freshly lit Benson and Hedges – go figure).

However, the reality of the effects of cigarettes on the human body, is a world apart from my somewhat rose tinted memories of them. Cigarettes contain more than 4000 chemical compounds and at least 400 toxic substances.  This includes nicotine which is highly addictive. It leaves those who are experiencing withdrawal with symptoms such as craving, anxiety, restlessness, headaches, irritability, hunger and difficulty with concentration. Cigarettes also include tar and carbon monoxide. The risks involved in smoking have been well documented, with a link being drawn between smoking and cancer, cardiovascular desease and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Desease (COPD)…but you knew all that.

Woman blowing cigarette smoke

With this in mind, the e-cigarette always seemed to me to be a better option. Not because I wanted to take up smoking myself, just because the risk involved with smoking traditional cigarettes will never be worth it…ever.

Electronic cigarettes produce an aerosol vapour instead of smoke. They are battery operated and allow you to choose your level of nicotine. Used properly,  e-cigarettes could have you enhaling as little as one-tenth of the toxins inhaled in burning traditional tobacco cigarettes.  What’s more, e-cigarettes allow smokers an (almost) guilt free option when smoking around others, as they contain nowhere near as many carcinogens.

This is not to say that e-cigarettes are without some risk.

An article published on National Geographic, outlined the need for more research.  Quotes from industry specialists highlighted the risks of dual use (smoking e-cigarettes whilst continuing to smoke traditional cigarettes), the fact that e-cigarettes are not completely toxin free and the risk of younger non-smokers being lured in by the trend of the e-cigarette, it’s often fancy packaging and array of flavours.

I still think that anything that can prevent or decrease the amount of toxins being absorbed by smokers and those around them must be a good thing. But for those who feel unable to quit completely, is an e-cigarette really the next best thing?

Considering that many smokers actually started in their teens, my guess is yes. Let me know what you think in the comments section below.

If you are interested in quitting smoking why not visit: www.smokefree.nhs.com