The anti-tobacco laws that have come into effect over the past few years in South Africa has undoubtedly inconvenienced cigarette smokers. From having to smoke in designated smoker zones even when outdoors to paying more every year for a pack of cigarettes, these measures have made smokers more aware of the importance of kicking the habit. Inconvenience and an expensive product will at least reduce tobacco usage even if many smokers do not quit. The electronic cigarette that has recently hit our shores has been hailed as the solution for many cigarette smokers, especially the office bound chain smoker.
What is an Electronic Cigarette?
The electronic cigarette is a battery powered device that vaporises a nicotine liquid solution so that the user can inhale the vapor. The electronic cigarette is similar in appearance to a cigarette although heavier and slightly thicker. The thinking behind this product is that it is a safer alternative to cigarette smoking but still allows the smoker to satisfy their cravings in a manner they are most accustomed to.
Why an electronic cigarette?
Many electronic cigarette manufacturers and retailers tout the following benefits of an electronic cigarette.
- Nicotine is addictive but not harmful to your health and can be used in many forms.
- Nicotine patches, gum and mouth sprays do not offer the same ‘feel’.
- Tar and other carcinogens present in burning tobacco is not present in an electronic cigarette.
- Family, friends and colleagues are not inconvenienced with secondary smoke.
Will an electronic cigarette help me to stop smoking?
It is quite unlikely that any form of nicotine replacement will allow you to stop smoking. While many products claim that by gradually reducing your daily dosage of nicotine, you will wean off your addiction, the reality is that smokers may end up smoking more after quitting for a few days. Certain drugs, like Zyban (bupropion), are significantly more effective in assisting those who want to stop smoking compared to nicotine replacement methods.
An electronic cigarette should be seen as an adjunct to cigarette smoking rather than a ‘quit smoking’ device. Since you can smoke without any reservation in most settings (although it is polite to ask those around you) an electronic cigarette will reduce the need for you to pop out for a smoke break and nicotine load with 2 to 3 cigarettes. The electronic cigarette has been used in the United States for over 4 years with little evidence suggesting any toxicity or dangers associated with its use.