Talks held this week will decide whether regulations should be tightened on the use of e-cigarettes, an increasingly popular product which offers all the satisfaction of a cigarette (including the taste), with none of the side-effects.
One million people are expected to switch to e-cigarettes this year, which some experts believe could save up to five million lives over the next few years.
E-cigarettes consist of liquid nicotine on one end and an atomiser and rechargeable battery on the other. Smokers draw on one end, as they would a real cigarette, and exhale water vapour which looks like smoke. Because there is no tobacco, e-cigarettes do not cause tar build-up in the lungs and is therefore seen as a healthy alternative to smoking.
However, the BMA has expressed growing concerns over the lack of regulation of e-cigarettes. At the moment, children can buy them and people can smoke them wherever they like – whether on a train, in the street or at the office.
The BMA is worried that e-cigarettes will further glamourise smoking and would like to classify them as a medicinal product so they can be tightly regulated.
UK distributor VIP says this move could put them out of business. However, company marketing director Andy Whitmore agrees that an age cap of 18 would help protect vulnerable children.
Discussing the public image of e-cigarettes, VIP’s chief executive officer Lawrence Jones said: “It does look like smoking but could you stop someone from chewing a pencil or biting their nails? I don’t think there’s any difference between going for a caffeine break and having a nicotine break.”
What do you think? Do e-cigarettes normalise smoking, or will they protect people from the devastating effects of real cigarettes?
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